“Who wants to become a writer? And why? Because it’s the answer to everything. … It’s the streaming reason for living. To note, to pin down, to build up, to create, to be astonished at nothing, to cherish the oddities, to let nothing go down the drain, to make something, to make a great flower out of life, even if it’s a cactus.”
It’s been a couple weeks.
The state of the world is really getting to me lately, and maybe not just me. Among my author friends on social media, I’m seeing more and more of them say, I just can’t write right now. I’m unmotivated.
This week Time.com published an opinion piece on the need for writers writing being more important than they have ever been, We need writers more than ever by Jennifer Egan. It really got me thinking.
What we have is a gift, and, in times of crisis, we would normally turn to that gift to ease the suffering. Yet, something about the world today, the noise of it, the 24 hour news cycle mentality, seems to make that harder. We feel like we’re all drowning in it, so why add to the flood ?
A friend of mine made the suggestion that the reason to write doesn’t have to be complex or shake the world to its foundation. Sometimes, it’s just to record the world as it was in this moment. I’m thinking of writing more hard copy lately, and this sounds crazy… but it’s because it might be the end of the world as we know it.
Seriously, I don’t believe the internet will survive as global climate change starts to change our societies. I’m working on journalism of place, meaning I’ll begin writing the world as it is around me, right here and now, and on paper in the hope that those words will serve as historical record later. Because some of the best historical records come from private letters between individuals or journals of everyday people from the era.
That’s when I realized that mentally I’m thinking of the end of things, and I’ve never done that before, not for us. If anything can cause depression, it’s probably contemplating an ending, but I’m a writer. This is our nature. We’re the kind to follow the thought to its logical conclusion. With the evidence before us in part, we’ll think all the way to the end and plot out the points along the way. It’s a sort of downer as a superpower honestly.
Therefore, I decided I needed something to DO about the situation instead of continuing to beat my head against my desk to write a happy ending I don’t really believe in. It is time for writers to write, not just to persuade but to preserve. It’s time to speak in defense of the defenseless and think about the ends and beginnings before us and where they might take us. Optimism and hope can be found in the power to change the situation we’re facing, and that’s where writers will find it.