Come play inside a writer's brain, scary!

Lately I’m hearing this question a lot from writers, both aspiring and multi-published. They say creating a work of entertainment seems pointless in light of the political upheavals all around us, and shared in confronting detail on social media.

They’re questioning the wisdom of billionaire businessmen as romantic heroes when the paradigm is undermined by world leaders and politicians in the real world.

We have been here before. Waking up to the horrors of 9/11 in Canberra Australia, I first thought it was promotion for a movie. Would that it had been. Instead we all had to deal with the awareness that our world would never be the same again.

As terrorism became an escalating threat, I remember discussing with colleagues whether sheikhs could ever be heroes again, right when I had a romance novel called Desert Justice on the drawing board. Sheikhs have long been a romance staple, along with twins, secret babies and characters with amnesia. Readers enjoy these stories, especially when writers put our own twist on the trope.

I concluded that my sheikhs had nothing to do with reality and never had. They were fantasies I shared with readers all over the world. Mine were mostly reformers anyway, to fit my feminist inclinations. So Desert Justice went ahead.

Then there was the Y2K bug, (for Year 2000 bug) when we feared a worldwide computer meltdown because programmers had routinely shortened dates to two digits – 99 instead of 1999 – potentially causing every system in the world to go haywire or crash when the program spun over to 00. Time Magazine’s slightly tongue-in-cheek cover blared, “The end of the world? Y2K insanity. Apocalypse now! Will computers melt down? A guide to Millennium Madness”

time-magazine-cover-jan-18-1999

Tongue in cheek or not, Time’s publishers set up a bunker in their basement, equipped to produce the magazine in the event of catastrophic breakdowns. None of which, as we know now, were needed. The Y2K disaster never happened.

But most such fears have some basis in reality.

Nor do I mean to make light of our fears right now. In Writing in Difficult Times Kristine Kathryn Rusch blogs about her feelings after 9/11 at http://tinyurl.com/hwq5ke5 and says, “Writing didn’t matter when faced with the loss of life and the outpouring of grief. It didn’t matter in the face of the kinds of horrors human beings can impose on each other.

And the irony was, for me, I had been writing a book that I believed did matter, that it was about things people needed to know and see and understand. I felt passionate about the book, until the world changed.

“…And that was when I had my epiphany. I realized that escape is rest. It’s important. It gets us away from the horrors, the terrible things, the stresses and upsetting moments of everyday life.”644244_605309199480761_1647106081_n

I understand her feelings. Writing has never been easy even when you have a reliable publishing path and keen readers. When you have neither, the journey seems endless. But pointless? Never. I’ve been at book signings where my readers say they’ve stockpiled my books to help them through upcoming surgery. Or that something I’ve written has directly changed their thinking in some way, or given them comfort in a time of struggle. How can this not be valuable? In her blog, Kathryn sets out some sensible, doable steps to help deal with whatever crisis you’re facing. If it’s getting out there and applying your skills to help out, do that. If it’s donating money, or raising awareness, do that. It’s OK to give yourself permission not to write while you handle the crisis.

Then, when you’re able, get back to the keyboard and write your truths in your own way, as novels, movie scripts, articles or blogs. When you write from your own inner truth, your words will affect readers in ways you can’t even imagine. That’s a valuable contribution, too.

By making sense of your own world, you help your readers do the same. As long as you keep writing.

How are you dealing with the world today? Has it affected your writing? Comments are moderated to avoid spam but  appear right away for subscribers, or after you click “sign me up” at right. I don’t share your details with anyone.

Valerie

on Twitter @ValerieParv and Facebook

Valerie’s latest book, Outback Code, is OUT NOW,

3 books complete in one volume for summer reading

For international orders, print & ebook formats,

Booktopia http://tinyurl.com/hj3477e

From Amazon for Kindle http://tinyurl.com/hxmmqsk

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Comments on: "First Monday Mentoring February – What’s the point of writing anything?" (13)

  1. Writing and reading are both great escapisms in troubled times ❤

    • Absolutely, good for us to get lost in our own worlds, at least for a time, and take our readers with us. Reading other writers’ worlds is also rest for the soul.

  2. Gillian Curtin (aka Astrid Cooper) said:

    I escape into my own worlds, where truth and justice and love prevail; I also escape to my garden and see the beauty of nurturing things. I also escape in the love I have for my cats – I rescue abused/unloved cats and give them a furever home, or work with rescuers to find homes for the many needing love and care. The world is a terrifying place right now, and I have despaired, but if I give up, then the “bad” has won… I won’t let that happen in my life. (hard as it might be).

    • I admire your work with rescue cats, Astrid. Glad it acts as an antidote to some of the world’s ills right now. And yes, we must not give up or the bad does win. My worlds are sci-fi, romance and suspense – all with satisfying endings that I hope inspire others to keep going.

  3. Yes, yes, yes! As I said on my own blog the other day, there’s a reason why dictators go after the artists firsts. Because we are the ones who distract from them, who make people think, who show there can be another way. In deference to your readers, I won’t complete the quote, but as Chuck Wendig would say, ‘Art Harder!’ We all need it, in tough times more than ever. Art is resistance.

    • Yes, this. I quote Chuck often with language alert 🙂 It’s the challenge of “arting harder” in tough times that really tests us as writers.

  4. Bravo! Just what I needed. Although I have been writing, I haven’t been writing enough. Or making enough music or enough drawings. Haven’t painted at all! For me, it all goes together. Ars gratia artis (art for art’s sake), because you are so right: art (escape) is rest!

    I remember on 9/11, we were in hospital with Mom, who was gravely ill at the time. We saw the footage on a tiny 5″ black & white screen, and one of our nurses gravely told us we were now at war. The hospital is directly in the flight pattern for Lindbergh Field, and for the next few days, there was complete silence. No air traffic. All air travel was stopped (and rightly so). I can’t remember if I managed to write anything at that time. If so, it was probably awful. I may have at least been journaling. If I’d been in the middle of a novel, that probably would have helped. (Incidentally, one of our friends thought the same thing about it being a movie trailer when she first saw it. If only…)

    Writing and imagination can help us through some of the hardest times. So can reading, or films, or television. I think God gave us creativity to keep us sane when the world is going mad. I’m thankful for the gift of writing, and that I can count so many wonderful writers as friends. Present company definitely included!

    • I’m sorry for your experiences of 9/11 but glad you can find solace in writing, even if just writing in a journal. As you say, any creative activity helps keep us sane, but also helps those who read or enjoy our art, giving them a rest from the chaos that surrounds us all too often these days.

  5. I believe it’s the energy suck that stops the creative process for me, now that the initial emotional shock is over.

    Starting something new with a friend proved the catalyst I needed. Now if I can just keep Kate from fighting on social media long enough to write…

    So blessed to have this creative opportunity and to work with her!

    • You’ve added another possibility to the mix, thanks Grace: if you’re really struggling to create your art, team up with another writer. The buddy system works on so many levels from moral support to shared ideas and keeping each other accountable. LOL at keeping your buddy from fighting on social media. That’s a whole ‘nother blog 🙂

  6. Gillian Curtin (aka Astrid Cooper) said:

    I am always reminded of these lines from a poem… Artists (of whatever media – word, picture or sound) are the dreamers who represent a different point of view to the world and why dictators go after them…

    We are the music-makers,
    And we are the dreamers of dreams,
    Wandering by lone sea-breakers,
    And sitting by desolate streams.
    World-losers and world-forsakers,
    Upon whom the pale moon gleams;
    Yet we are the movers and shakers,
    Of the world forever, it seems.

    Arthur William Edgar O’Shaughnessy

    • This is the first time I’ve come across this poem, and it’s wonderful. Shall go Google the author. I think as well as all those things, we’re the truth-tellers identifying the Emperor’s new clothes when it’s the last thing Those in Power want to have happen. As Gene Roddenberry did so effectively in the original Star Trek, when he called TIP to account for things like racism, unwinnable wars and gender equality, we can be truth-tellers in the guise of fantasy, science fiction and even romance and get a message out there when it would be stifled any other way.

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