Sunday, March 22, 2020

The Pandemic as Part of What You're Writing Now

Social distancing.
Stay at home.
Shelter in place.
Some are new phrases. Some are old ones applied to a new situation. What other words are we as a society going to invent or re-purpose as we live through this pandemic? I’ll be very interested to see.
I’ve been asked multiple times in the past week if my current work-in-progress will have a pandemic in it. The answer is: I don’t know. I’d say “it’s too soon,” but that I think might not end up applying this time. “Too soon” works for a finite moment-in-time type of disaster—an earthquake, a tornado, or even something that lasted longer like Hurricane Katrina or 9/11 and their aftermaths. Most good novels about those kinds of events come later, after a writer has had time to process something so overwhelming. Time to let it marinate, to seep into the subconscious and come out again, emerging in a written work that adds something new and unique to the conversation.
But this … this is a drip-drip-drip of a disaster. Will we really wait all that time after it’s over to start producing novels about it? I don’t know that a lot of us can wait. Writers gotta write. We’re hardwired to process things with the written word. And now that many of us are stuck at home with nothing else to think about all day, I’m going to wager that there will be books published a lot sooner after this horribleness ends than those after previous tragedies.
Will I be one of them? I don’t know yet. But I’m definitely thinking about it.

1 comment:

Holly West said...

I just don't find pandemic stories interesting. Or really, any kind of natural disaster-type thing. But I think I'm going to include the fires that happened the last few years in California as a backdrop to my new WIP. The fires won't be part of the story directly but you know how the smoke travels for miles and miles and hovers over everything so that even if you're not directly impacted it's always there and inescapable? That.