Thursday, October 17, 2019

Welcome to the Future, or Not

I’ve never been afraid of much. Not sure why. I don’t like scary movies, don’t read horror novels. I used to fear getting old, but I’m kind of there, and it’s not as bad as I thought. But in day-to-day life, nothing much ever made me really scared, until recently.


Why could that be? you might ask. It’s the future—the future I probably won’t be around to learn if my fears were justified. The future that my children, grandchildren, and their children face. It’s the banal reality show mentality of the Kardashians and Big Brother. The greed in politics and lack of empathy. It’s people shrugging off the ugliness toward others and normalizing it. It’s a diminished public educational system that only serves those kids who are lucky enough to live in a good district or have the benefit of a private education. A good public education used to be for all kids from grades one to twelve and then affordable college. Now, some people bribe colleges to get their kids accepted, as if they have no faith their child will be accepted on his or her own merits. We need to teach critical thinking and civics, and we need to spend more money to do it.

My fears aren’t momentary fears, like a monster coming out of the closet or a “we’re-gonna-need-a-bigger-boat” shark attack. It’s fear of the real and all-too common nutcase with an AR-15 or a bomb attacking those out for a peaceful afternoon or a movie. It’s the heartbreak of seeing people living on the street and the fear that it will get worse.

If this sounds political, it isn’t. These are not right or left concerns. There is only one side to this, the human side. Before anyone jumps on me and reminds me of slavery, segregation, and Kent State, among dozens of other examples, yes, I know. We have some dreadful history in this country that people will point out when we get on our idealistic high horse about how much better we are than everyone else. We recognize these atrocities and wars, the shootings and prejudices, but I never feared I’d be shot in a movie theater or my kids would have classes on how to survive being the senseless targets of a psycho while they were at school.

How does this all pertain to writing, for I can’t forget, The Blood Red Pencil is a blog for writers, editors, and readers. At the risk of sounding shallow, all these fears and distractions have interfered with my concentration to write. Some things are keeping me up at night. Maybe I’m not a “real” writer if I can’t compartmentalize what worries me. I can accept that. Like I said, most of my life is behind me, but I worry about what’s coming, for my kids and yours. The fact that we have become more callous and complacent to the erosion of common decency is terrifying to me, and that so many don’t see the future repercussions of what is happening now is even more scary.

All that said, I try to convince myself that I’m wrong and and that there’s nothing to fear. When I can concentrate, I write. The book I’m working on now is political. It’s about power, revenge, and betrayal. Perfect for our times, but it’s also a way of making sure I control the ending, and that everything comes out all right.

Polly Iyer is the author of nine novels: standalones Hooked, InSight, Murder Déjà Vu, Threads, and Indiscretion, and four books in the Diana Racine Psychic Suspense series, Mind Games, Goddess of the Moon, Backlash and The Scent of Murder. A Massachusetts native, she makes her home in the beautiful Piedmont region of South Carolina. You can visit her website for more on Polly and connect with her on Facebook and Twitter.



23 comments :

  1. Beautifully and effectively stated, Polly. I can certainly see these fears spilling over into our writing. Thank you for this heartfelt article. You've nailed if for all of us.

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  2. Great essay on the battered state of common decency and courtesy that we see today. I blame all the 24 hour cable news stations for some of this. They want to cause anger and frustration for all. What happened to people like Walter Cronkite and a short news show that gave the highlights of the news instead of everyone's disgruntled opinions?

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    1. You are so right, Sasscer. They certainly have a part in this. Unfortunately, news is a business in business to make money. It is incumbent on all of us to be informed. How much info and the time spent is up to us. I know I spend too much time watching, but I feel like every day is history.

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  3. Excellent post, Polly. I think back to my grade school days and remember huddling under desks as we tried to imagine being wiped out by Russian bombs. Worrying then (as a child) was just as useless and sad as having to worry now about everything from guns to cow farts. Better we write and live our lives as though writing will cure all the ills of the world...because you never know.

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    1. We've traded one time for another, both scary as hell for children. For adults too. Yes, as I said, writing allows me to control the story and make everything happy, or at least optimistic.

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  4. Well put, Polly. We all live on edge a bit these days, and we are less civil for it, more prone to quick flares. I noted the reference above to hiding under desk in case of bombs, and it makes me think it's time to reread Faulkner's Nobel speech. I believe with him mankind will not only endure but will prevail--but God it's hard sometimes.

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    1. Getting harder every day, Judy. I have frittered away the whole day I had planned to write. Thanks for commenting.

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  5. Well said. I have never felt this doubtful about humanity's future with the evidence of global shifting. And never as uncertain of America's future not only because of the leader of the moment but the fact that so many people don't see anything wrong with him. I've been reading dystopian novels that always leave me feeling hopeful that the future will be saved, but then I watch the news.

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    1. I don't read dystopian novels, and I try to stay away from that type of movie. I have the opposite view that you do. I see that the worst could happen and don't want to see it or read it. Yes, then there's the news, which makes it all the more possible.

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  6. Been feeling this way for quite a while now, Polly. Good summation of the whole problem. I'm trying hard to stay positive and optimistic, but it's very difficult right now.

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    1. Yes, Jan. Every day it seems worse. Today was another day. If I wrote 20 words, it was a lot. Thanks for commenting.

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  7. I too am fearful of the future for my grandchildren and great-grandchildren. At 71, I have had the benefit of what is probably the best and safest period in history. But what is coming seems much worse than what passed just before I was born.

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    1. I'm sure segregation and the Vietnam period felt like it was a bad time, but we knew it would pass. Not sure about this period. Thanks for commenting.

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  8. Excellent, Polly. I'm only sorry it's so true. I share your fears but sometimes writing helps. As you say, that's the one way we can ensure the kind of ending we want.

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    1. Thanks, Linda. Unfortunately, I'm having that very problem of not being able to write the ending in my current work. That hasn't happened before, so I'm blaming the reason on the points of my post. :-(

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  9. My father once said that every generation thinks that things are as bad as they can get and then the next generation thinks the same thing. I sometimes feel overwhelmed with the state of humanity or lack thereof. All I can think to so, is act and improve my little corner of the world as best as I can. Raise my children to be compassionate and open-minded and be kind. Always be kind.

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    1. That's the most important thing we can teach our children.

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  10. I share the kudos of the others who have left comments, and I thank you for sharing this. It has been so hard for me to concentrate on writing this past year, and I've blamed most of it on my trigeminal neuralgia, but I know the state of our nation and our world play a big part, too.

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    1. I'm so sorry for all you've gone through, Maryann. The state of the world is bad enough, but to share it with an illness makes it even worse. Hugs.

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  11. I share your feelings and fears. The loss of empathy for our fellow humans is frightening on many levels. I'm compelled to follow the news even though it often keeps me awake. I've hardly written anything in recent years. Good post.

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The Blood-Red Pencil is a blog focusing on editing and writing advice.