Tuesday, March 22, 2022

Writing in the Midst of Too Many Distractions

What’s going on in the world is not a mere distraction in the writing process, it’s a mind-bending, hard-to-fathom series of catastrophes with roots in a few different causes. Let me explain.
Without getting specific and naming names, the genesis of my struggles (and I can only specify this post by how it affects me), started way back in 2015 with ugliness rearing its political head, causing a fissure in this country that goes on to this day. We have had divisions in the United States before, but never have they been more apparent, more deeply felt, with two sides locked into their conflicting beliefs, each charting a course that the other side disparages except maybe those that triggered the Civil War. These beliefs are not just polite disagreements but a vicious clash of ideas and direction, steeped in anger and finger-pointing and buoyed by lies and disinformation, promoted by men and women with their own political and personal agendas. Politics has always been a dirty business, going back to the Founders, but with so much at stake, it has now become more of a power struggle than ever before with unimaginable consequences. Many in positions of authority have forgotten that their job is to take care of the people of their states, instead becoming caretakers of their own financial and commercial interests. This applies to both sides of the political spectrum, but the result further divides the country into the haves and have-nots. These divisions are said by many to be the beginning of the end of big D Democracy. The unfortunate part is some want that to happen. It’s all about power and control.
Next, at the very end of 2019, a virus that started in China hit the world with a vengeance. It mirrored the Spanish flu of a hundred years before, which took the lives of millions, including my grandfather. This new corona virus, named COVID 19, became a rallying cry from both sides, where black was white and good was evil. Some claimed the science was nothing more than hocus-pocus, with the learned doctors being called charlatans as they had to modify their medical positions as the virus mutated. People died by the hundreds of thousands for believing false claims about the virus, many finally understanding their folly on their deathbeds. To make matters worse, and because so many people ignored the methods to eradicate the virus, different strains developed, each worse than the one before it. Now, into its third year, things are finally getting back to normal, whatever that is these days, but I for one will not forego my mask quite yet.
Putting all that aside, we sit in our living rooms each day watching one powerful country wreak havoc on another for no other reason than to restore a lost empire and prevent that weaker country from choosing democracy over tyranny. We see babies and children murdered by bombs, hospitals leveled, families fleeing from their destroyed homes, and we can’t do a damn thing to stop it because it might generate a third world war, one that would inevitably result in nuclear destruction. We are impotent and frustrated, but we’re not alone in those feelings. Countries have joined together to sanction the despot who is resolute in his obsession to conquer the weaker country, though he couldn’t have conceived the bravery and fortitude of its people in fighting back. Even if he’s ultimately victorious, it will be a Pyrrhic victory because the vanquished will never be subjugated to his will. The war is creating unlikely heroes: the TV comedy star who becomes president of the country and rises to the occasion of wartime leader, the woman who flashes a sign on the Russian nightly news warning of the war to an uninformed public, the journalists who are working and dying to bring the facts to the world, the men who carry their families to safety before returning to fight for their freedom. Yes, this is what FREEDOM is all about.

In spite of all that’s going on, ordinary people are being taxed by higher gas prices, not because of the war, but because of greedy oil suppliers that once again see a way to make money. And still we complain and blame the blameless. We’re facing food shortages because of supply chain issues, and still we complain because it always comes back to our pocketbooks. Heaven help us if we had to survive World War II when many of our parents and grandparents had to buckle their belts and make do with what they could to exist. You know, for the cause of FREEDOM.

So those of us who are having problems writing might for once claim a reason to be unable to concentrate. Our written stories seem petty and insignificant in the light of what others are experiencing right now. We try to ignore the aforementioned divisions in our country, the truckers who rally to protest about mask mandates, the children dying before our eyes, the cities bombed to smithereens, the psychopathic tyrant who has no other consideration than to restore his country to the greatness of the bygone era of Peter the Great and to hell with anyone who stands in his way. Just keep in mind that those few moments we can write a chapter or two allows us to block out all the world’s problems that have become our problems. It doesn’t last long, but even that brief respite helps.

Write on, friends.
Polly Iyer is the author of ten novels: standalones Hooked, InSight, Murder Déjà Vu, Threads, Indiscretion, and her newest, we are but WARRIORS. Also, 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.

20 comments :

  1. Powerfully and eloquently written, Polly. You have expressed the feelings of many who are helpless to change what's happening. For the record, I have some very specific and detailed memories of World War II.

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    1. I take no pleasure in not being alone in this, Linda. It's horrible every day. I'm trying not to watch because of the negative effect on my, but sometimes it's like watching that proverbial train wreck.

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    2. Man's inhumanity to his fellow man, even in this country, has again risen to new heights. First, it was the Red man, then the Black man and the Yellow man. It has always been woman, regardless of her skin color. It has been the Jew, the Catholic, the man of non-Christian faith, the man of no faith. An ancient text says man is incapable of ruling his fellow humans; thousands of years of recorded history have sadly proven that truer words were never spoken. The toll in human suffering is far beyond comprehension. Yet, we writers persevere in telling our stories, in trying to infuse hope where there seems to be none. I, too, take no pleasure in the horrors than fill the daily news. With that in mind, I very seldom watch it.

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    3. And on it goes with the Supreme Court hearings. Exactly what you said. I haven't watched the hearings only because I won't give credence to the cretins, but I do watch the wrap-up. Disgraceful to watch the grandstanding of some of the people in charge of our country against a woman who is the quintessential American story.

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  2. Polly, this is so true! I wonder that I'm sort of stuck on my ms that I've been working in for a year, but these events have many of us almost paralyzed. Thanks for articulating so well!

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    1. I get excited if I write 100 words these days, that's after I'm ecstatic for even opening my file.

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  3. I particularly resonate with your comment about what our work means (or doesn't) in a time like this. What does it help to write, except us? But I know how much pleasure I take from others' words, and how that helps me sort through the issues (and escape them for a brief time!), so I try to keep that in mind when I'm creating.

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    1. It is a method of escape, which is why I started writing in the first place. But it's never been this hard. Glad you have such a good attitude.

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  4. So well put, Polly. A concise summary of where the world is--and it isn't pretty. What most resonated for me, writing slightly humorous cozies, is that what I write seems insignificant in this world full of catastrophes. Maybe if I go back to writing about women of history, I'll find more meaning. Thanks for provoking some new thoughts.

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    1. There is an element of insignificance in writing, whether serious or humorous, these days. Writing also takes us away from the weight of world problems, if we could only get into the rhythm. It's the rhythm I'm having problems with.

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  5. Lately, I have been feeling that the writing is a life process and at its foundation, is important to the writer's wellbeing, whether the words impact the world or not. So, I am going with that. Good post, Polly.

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    1. Thanks, Dani. Whatever works. If you get some good words out of the process, all the better.

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  6. I just remember Anne Frank and how her story written during genocide went on to touch the world. Writing is even more important today than ever before.

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    1. And thank goodness for the journalists recording everything that's going on, some giving their lives to do it.

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  7. During my whole life, there has always been something horrible happening somewhere in the world. Some mighty amazing literature has come out of those times. Write on.

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    1. That is a great reply, because you are absolutely right. I guess the best we can do is dig in deep and put it down on paper. Thank you.

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    2. Perhaps the key is writing from the heart, especially when the heart hurts.

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    3. What a great comment, Pat. I think you are so right about writing from the heart when it hurts. I started my writing eons ago - nonfiction - when I just had to respond to some social issue. Had a lot to say about segregation, bigotry and discrimination in the late 60s. Still do today as sadly, that is a social problem that has never been overcome.

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  8. Polly, sorry I didn't read this post sooner. What a great essay. Have you considered writing something like this every day for a while - just for yourself - and see if that doesn't lead to a possible book of essays relevant to current affairs? You certainly express the ideas and thoughts quite well.

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    1. Thank you, Maryann. I'm pretty sure if I made a vow to write an essay every day, I would run dry in a couple of days. I've written a few over the years on this blog that I'm proud of. Maybe I'll go back and see how they hold up over time.

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