Thursday, September 24, 2020

Moving Forward While the World Stands Still

This morning, I read Pat Stoltey's excellent post on the Colorado Writers Collaborative. Because I was a Colorado writer for many years, my curiosity was piqued. If you have not read her article, I suggest you do so, whether or not you are in Colorado and especially if world events have neutralized or totally drained your creative juices.


When I was raising my children, I looked forward to the time when I could sit down unhampered and transfer all the stories running around in my head to a written format. "Unhampered" means unbridled, unrestrained by circumstances, and I needed that freedom to write. The children long ago reached adulthood, their youngsters are grown, and most of them have grandchildren. So what's the excuse now?

Circumstances change. Mates die. Homes are gone. Families scatter. Estrangements shut down communication. Incentive wanes. Minds and bodies grow weary with age. Illness saps energy. Depression suppresses creative expression.

The list of potential creativity stiflers goes on and on, and the brass ring that seemed just out of reach in days gone by eludes all efforts to grasp it. Dulled by the tarnish of passing years, it no longer holds the appeal it once did. Seeking another way to reach it requires too much effort. Is there a brighter side to all this negativity?

Actually . . . yes. Even when the writing habit could not (or did not) take root and grow during earlier years, it's likely hibernating. It needs only to be awakened and pressed into service. That sounds easy enough, but the process can prove daunting. Then along comes a pandemic, and the chuckholes in the road to rehabbing it grow into major sinkholes. So what's next? Does the lemon-into-lemonade cliché apply here?


Perhaps it does. Stories can come from a deep well of memories, rather like Phoenix rising from the ashes. Historical events, current or past news, experiences, changed circumstances, and a host of other sources can fuel the creation of a blockbuster book. Take a pandemic, for example.

What happens if a worldwide plague grows out of a new virus in a single country? What if the extent of its spread is kept secret from the people? What if a huge disparity of the "facts" develops between scientists and authorities? What if flourishing businesses must close their doors, albeit temporarily, while struggling businesses cease to exist. What if unemployment rises sharply, and families are forced from their homes into the streets? What if food prices escalate, store shelves are empty, and penniless people, young and old, have nothing to eat? What if authorities seize the opportunity to take control of populations accustomed to being free to make their own choices? What if the world comes under the control of a single government that claims to have the interest of all at heart? And what if that government dictates what all citizens must do, although not necessarily in the best interests of the people?


Whether we write women's fiction, fantasy, sci-fi, romance, or whatever, within those parameters of "what-ifs" lie a plethora of gripping stories that can touch readers' hearts, possibly even offer them hope. People are starving for honesty, for reassurance, for a positive word about their future, the future of their children, grandchildren, other loved ones, and the world in general. We have a unique opportunity to explore a situation such as noted above from a variety of angles. We can move forward even if the world stands still. Could this be the inspiration we need to begin writing—or continue writing? What do you think?


Editor Linda Lane has returned to her first love—writing—while maintaining her editing work. Her novels typically fall into the literary category because they are character driven rather than plot driven, but their quick pace reminds the reader of genre fiction. You can contact her through her websites: LSLaneBooks.com and DenverEditor.com.

8 comments :

  1. Thanks, Linda! Although the pandemic has changed the way I do a lot of things, it has certainly sparked my imagination when it comes to story-telling. While I'm finishing up old projects, I'm looking for just the right new idea for NaNoWriMo. :D

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  2. When we look back at times gone by, we see how crises in the past inspired a number of stories that tell us a lot about people and events that shaped lives in the time of their writing.

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  3. As you will see in my next post, I'm at a crossroad, not sure what to do or in which direction to go. I've never experienced this before so it's new to me.

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    1. The world has changed so much in just a few short months, and I don't see many signs that it's about to get back to normal——whatever normal is. When I was younger, I could roll with the punches, as the cliché goes. Now, it's different. Age somehow reduces flexibility. It's also said you can't teach old dogs new tricks. Trying to prove that's not always true is a bumpy road, but it is passable. Just gotta watch for those chuckholes that are now sinkholes.

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  4. I have read so much dystopian fiction that I am not surprised by our current situation but unless we start seeing the heroes, I do have a lot of anxiety over it.

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  5. The negativity right now is overwhelming. A lot of folks in a variety of working situations are more than going the extra mile for the rest of us. They deserve our gratitude and respect and most of all our public thanks.

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  6. You are so right about illness sapping energy and minds. I've really struggled with that for the past five years and the current situation with the pandemic and the uncertainty of government doesn't help. Not much writing has happened in recent weeks.

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    1. For at least two years, I've been working on a rewrite that should have been finished long before now. But it's not. I'm still plugging along; however, it's slow going. Please take care of you, my friend. Sometimes, it's really hard to fight back against the toll of passing years and ongoing medical issues. And sometimes it's hard to accept our decreasing ability to forge ahead full steam. I used to work 18 hours a day when facing a deadline. Now, I do exceptionally well to work 1/3 of that — and can only do that a day or two at a time.

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