Almost two years into a global pandemic. Trump once again on the prowl. Supply chains everywhere reeling. Climate catastrophe squarely upon us. China posturing in the Taiwan Strait. North Korea threatening to blow everyone’s house down. Afghanistan in chaos (as usual)….
… I wrote that last October. Since then, the pandemic has morphed, slipping and sliding around like a viral eel — today things appear be returning to a slightly jarring sense of quasi-normalcy in some parts of the planet, in others — hello, China, outbreaks and lockdowns continue.
Truckers have trucked (and honked, oh, how they have honked). And now, most recently, the brutal Putin invasion of Ukraine, sending the rest of the world scrambling to shore up their defences, forcing them to re-examine old and new political and military relationships, and leading to a near-universal of the astonishing grit, determination, and bravery of the Ukrainian people.
I think it’s time to trot this post out again, dust off the digital dust and put it out there one more time, with gusto. So here’s the balance of what I wrote, almost half a year ago….
… I could go on, but you get the drift — in fact, if you’re reading this in the autumn of 2021, you’re living it.
If there’s an upside to all of this, it’s the fact that it’s precisely times like these when it totally rocks to be a novelist.
“You can’t make shit like this up?”
Oh, yes you can. And even better — and perhaps more importantly — writers can extrapolate. They can look around the corner, make educated guesses, take leaps of faith (or stumbles based on lack thereof).
They can look back and give us a sense of how in the hell we got here. They can look ahead and predict how this whole mess is likely to pan out. Unfettered by the need to pay attention to logic, fact, or good taste.
I know, I know — you’re thinking to yourself, “he’s just described half the people on the planet, right there.”
Ah, but the difference is novelists know they’re making shit up. They’re doing it on purpose — and for a reason. Plus, if we’re lucky, they’re able to string a few words together. Articulately. Movingly. Compellingly. Inspirationally, Hilariously.
If ever there was a time when we need more of that — more good writing, writing that helps us pull our collective head out of our collective ass, writing that informs and inspires — this surely is it.
On balance, this is a helluva great time to be a novelist.
At least that’s what I keep telling myself….