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Point of View: Writing Beauty in a Time of Chaos


Hey all,

It’s been almost a month since my world was turned upside down. Many things I thought were true about my own country and fellow Americans were shown to be either blatantly false, or at best rosy exaggerations. My place in this society, which a month ago seemed newly safe and secure, has once again been thrown into question.

In my little bubble here in Sacramento, nothing seems to have changed. Outside, it’s a beautiful (if cold) day. The mail still gets delivered into our box every day around noon. The paper still arrives on my doorstep on time every morning. Life goes on as it did before.

But through those little electronic boxes in my house – the computer, the TV, the iPad, the phone – bits and pieces of chaos seep in from out there like a poisonous fog, leaving a deep sense of unease in their wake. Sometimes I want to board up those glowing windows – pull down the shutters, batten the hatches, keep that other world out there where it can’t hurt me.

Through it all, I continue to write. Writing goes deep in me. For an hour or two, when I write, I’m not here but there, in some other world of my own devising, where I make the rules.

And then the fog seeps in again.

I sometimes find it hard to sit down and set the metaphorical pen to my virtual paper. Writing sci fi and fantasy and magical realism seems somehow trivial, especially in the face of the great and frightening changes sweeping the world.

Surely I should be writing some grand political screed, some diatribe against the politicians and the people who value power and greed and a monolithic sense of identity above all else. Something that might change, in some small way, what’s going on.

I am angry. Deeply, steadily angry. Angry that I am even considering giving up writing what I love. Angry that I have been reduced to a two dimensional cartoon in the eyes of so many. Angry that I have to learn to accept, every day, the thought that every good thing we built over these last eight years might be taken away.

Angry that the world I knew has been yanked out from under my feet.

It colors everything. How I speak with my friends. How I am with my husband. My patience is dangerously thin at the moment, and poor Marco has borne the brunt of it.

I need to find an outlet for it that’s not destructive, but creative.

One advantage we have as writers is our ability to take raw, primal emotion and channel it into our works – whether they are love, or happiness, or fear. Or anger. To crate beautiful, complex, three dimensional characters and worlds, both as an escape and as a reflection of our own.

I don’t know when this all gets better. If this all gets better. But I can still create beauty in this world, and maybe, just maybe, that will be enough.

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2 thoughts on “Point of View: Writing Beauty in a Time of Chaos”

  1. Creating beauty in the face of villainy is a powerful rebuke to villains. I have always sought to create beauty through my writing, but now I am faced with another call. In the words of Donald Maass, “How do you want your novel to change the world?”

    One gift of the dark election outcome is discovering that my writing must carry a more forceful social/ethical voice. Time to discern whether the pen is still mightier than the sword, or the spin doctors, or the looting frenzy of the thieves and scoundrels currently swarming to Washington to join their subtler colleagues there.

    I’ve already distilled how my current submission, Garden Witch, which is fundamentally a story revolving around ecological ethics, can be strengthened in a way that those themes will carry through the whole series as plot elements. I’m excited about that prospect. Ethics and power differential always appear in my stories one way or another, but it’s time to share my vision more clearly, and speak with more force.

    I’m tired of pretending my politics don’t matter to my writing. Ayn Rand never pretended that. Why should I?

    Thanks for your post, Scott. You’re not alone.

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