This post is later than normal, sorry about that. I’ve found it hard recently to sit down and write. And trust me, it’s got nothing to do with the weather. I’m not really a Summer kind of gal.
Rather, I’m having trouble focusing on my writing with the current state of the country. Women fighting for the rights to our bodies. Families living hand to mouth. Basic supplies are gone from our store shelves. Children were slaughtered in their classrooms. Veterans dying in the street. Yellowstone is being ripped apart by floods caused by climate change. Police still killing black people with little to no repercussions. Trans children and gay teachers are treated like predators and pedophiles.
Oh, and Flint Michigan still doesn’t have clean water.
If Aaron Burr was watching the afterbirth of a nation, we’re watching it have a head-on collision where the airbags failed.
And through all of this, we’re all dealing with our own struggles.
So what in the fuck am I doing writing stories? What the fuck do I think I’m doing, talking about American Horror Story, writing about true crime stories and ghost hunters? It doesn’t matter, none of this matters!
I’m pretty sure it was Matt Wallace on Ditch Diggers who said that it felt like he was standing outside a burning house, yelling at the people coming out, “Hey, you want to buy a book?”
Never in my life have I felt farther from my dream of being a full-time writer. The economy has a huge impact on creative fields, it always has. And it’s a one-two punch. People don’t have the money to buy as many books, so there’s less money coming in. And everything is more expensive, so the dollars we do get aren’t going half so far.
It’s always been hard to be a writer, but now it’s even worse.
And now is when we need writers the most.
Not just writers. We need musicians, visual artists, and creators of every kind. We need art more than ever in times like this.
We need artists to talk about what they’re seeing. To give different perspectives. To show the true horrors and not let any of us forget. We need to document the horrors, write down the names, and remember those who have been lost to us. Like those who have come before us, we can hold the feckless politicians accountable. We can use words and music and paint and photos to inspire people. We can let people know they’re not going through this alone. We can be the hand on the shoulder of someone who feels isolated.
Artists are the eyes upon those in power.
Artists hold the names of the lost in our collective memory.
Artists give words to the grief and boiling fury of a nation.
Like the receiver of memories, we have to suffer through the horrors and indulge in the joys of our past to guide people into a better future.
Some of us aren’t going to be able to do that. I can’t fight this fight all day, every day. I’ll never make it. So I’m also going to create silly things. The stories and podcasts and poems that have nothing to do with the horrors we’re facing. And I hope you do, too.
Because as much as we need the record keepers and fighters, we need the stories too.
We need things that distract us. That makes us laugh and smile and just forget about everything wrong for a bit. While I’m not one to turn off the news, I am one to take a break from the news and watch the latest Are You Scared. (Shane, Ryan and Stephen started a company in the middle of a pandemic. Clearly, they’re not scared of anything.)
I’ve carried books to ER waiting rooms. Played video games when I was having an anxiety attack. Watched my favorite movies when I’ve felt alone. Listened to music when there was no other way I could find my way out of the darkness.
I thought that was great on the last season of Stranger Things, by the way. Metaphorically, we’ve all been where Max was, lost in a dark place where no one can reach us, only to have music light our way back.
Which brings me to my final point.
My favorite stories include ordinary people finding that they have extraordinary strength within them. A strength that allows them to defeat the bad guys, save their loved ones and find peace in their world. While not everything turns out perfect, things get better. There’s a happy ending.
The Baudelaire find their safe place.
The House Next Door comes down.
The Owens sisters break the curse.
Coraline saves her parents.
And in reading their stories, we fight with them. We learn that we can lose but then win again.
So please, don’t stop creating. If you’ve always wanted to create but haven’t started yet, start now.
We have so much work to do.