Tuesday, June 9, 2020

What Will We Write?

What Will They read?

It’s a big question mark for writers for a post-pandemic period. What will readers read, and hence, what should we be writing?

No doubt, it’s the big five-W questions again.

The pandemic, of course. The one with the number nineteen in its name, though it’s mostly a twenty-twenty event

When sheltering in place and wiping grocery bags with bleach will be in the rear view mirror

Here, there, and most everywhere. But not, in fact, in the same way everyplace.

Human beings on every continents save Antarctica, that’s who L


Religious leaders and some environmentalists already have global moralistic explanations to the "why" of it. I will stay away from such like the plague that this sort of thinking is. The book of Job says it best: we can seek “reasons” but should avoid thinking we ultimately have any handle on moralistic global explanations.

And now, back to the ranch. The place where stories are born and typed, which (for me) is the corner of my room in the corner of my home.

I heard that some people were drawn to stories about plagues. Not me. I had no intention of re-reading Albert Camus’ The Plague, or watching movies like Steven Soderbergh’s Contagion or re-watching Wolfgang Petersen’s Outbreak. No way. Nah-ah. Not.

In the thick of sheltering in place and leaving home as little as possible to get groceries from markets with empty shelves, all I cared to read, watch, and listen to were stories about normal times. Stories with people who greet each other with a hug, and gather to listen to music in large halls, and go out to restaurants where others’ talking made it necessary to raise your voice for conversation. "Normal," like always.

When we’re back to normal, it may be a modified normal. But stories written before will only need slight changes, not seem downright anachronistic like they do now. Of course, there will be novels with this experience in the background. Stories about how some coped, while others frayed at the seams. They’ll likely include the requisite one person dying in each. But I hope that in less time than anyone imagines at the moment stories will return for the most part to where we left them, way back in the historic time of the Fall of 2019.

©Chaim Goldberg Art


Evelyn said...

It's interesting to speculate about the future, but it all seems very uncertain to me. I'm glad the creative juices are still flowing for some of you writers and stories are still being writtten.

Vijaya said...

The patterns in my life haven't changed much. I'm still reading and writing what brings me joy and hope.

Jenni said...

Hopefully, I'm not doing a bunch of comments. I think my first one didn't go through. It will be interesting to see what stories come out of this. I don't think I will be one of the ones writing them, although I can't say that this hasn't given me some dystopian-type ideas (not my usual genre). But right now, I'm still wanting to read and write about simpler times.

Mirka Breen said...

Have you noticed, Jenni, that dystopian novels proliferate and succeed commercially in relatively good times? Seems this sort of stimulation (not for me as reader or writer, either) is desired when times are good. We're always looking to balance ourselves, not tip-over.

Sherry Ellis said...

I have no interest in reading books or watching movies having to do with plagues or contagions. I'm sure a lot of writers will be writing stories about them, though.

MirkaK said...

My husband reminded me of the following work created during much earlier pandemics. Perhaps sheltering-in, especially in the countryside, is truly inspirational for imagining new work.

"In 1353, 667 years ago, Giovanni Boccaccio wrote The Decameron, a work about young Florentines fleeing the Black Death to live in a country estate. In 1605, when the plague closed all the theaters in London, Shakespeare retreated to the countryside and wrote King Lear, Macbeth and Anthony and Cleopatra. During the next episode of plague, 60 years later, Isaac Newton fled London to his mother’s home in Woolsthorpe. While there he figured out the laws governing the refraction of light and, of course, the laws of gravity. One of Herman Hesse's books revolves around people hiding out from the plague in the countryside. Albert Camus, an Algerian, wrote The Plague shortly after bubonic plague swept Algeria."

Mirka Breen said...

In the short(er) run, MirkaK, no one knows what publishers will be willing to try put forth. But I am optimistic for the long(er) run. Storytellers are for always.

Barbara Etlin said...

My Antarctica* reading list will feature fluffy, funny, escapist novels, poetry, light mysteries, legal thrillers, Shakespeare's plays, non-dystopian fantasy and biographies.

*where I've escaped to while I wait until it's safe to return home