Pushing Out the Words When the World is Burning

Pushing Out the Words When the World is Burning

The world has not stopped going to shit. People have not stopped being mean to other people. Life has not magically become simpler and more manageable.

And still, I need to write.

I have projects, I have deadlines, I have goals and a vision of the future. There are days when my belief in that vision carries me through the shitstorm of the day and sits me down with my keyboard or notebook to spin out the brain stuff that I weave into stories. And there are days when believing in a successful writing future feels like selfishness and vanity; like clutching fool’s gold. Those are the days when it’s hard to justify sitting down and writing.

If I can’t believe there is a future awaiting us, it’s hard to see writing stories as important. Sometimes depression and current events add up to a feeling that none of this matters. Human beings with all their capacity for creativity and compassion, for all that we can do that is positive and loving, we are also so destructive and ignorant. When the world is burning, do we still need art?

I went out to a search prompt to find an image for this post, I searched ‘art for when the world is burning’ and I found a Ted Talk in which R. Alan Brooks, graphic artist, asks “When the world is burning, is art a waste of time?” Well if that ain’t the hammer on the nail.

R. Alan Brooks, Graphic Artist

His message is, “Art can change hearts and minds, all the way across the world.”

He also makes the point that if art is silly and a waste of time, why do dictators always try to control the arts? I totally agree, and also…. I’m not doing art that challenges dictators. He wrote a graphic novel called The Burning Metronome that incorporates Brooks’ activism against racism, sexism and other current issues. I’m writing stories that are entertaining for me to write and that I hope will entertain others. Is entertainment a worthy cause right now? is it the kind of art that matters when the world is burning?

Seems like a stretch. Or perhaps I should think about it this way – maybe if someone reads my story about a nonbinary protagonist they’ll feel seen and validated. And perhaps, feeling validated and seen will help them pursue their dreams and passions. Maybe a story I write about an older trans person who rides out the end of the world will inspire someone to do some work to help older trans people deal with being older and trans in a world that still doesn’t know what to do with us, much less take good care of us. Maybe a story about queer and trans people loving, and making life livable will be the push a person needs to keep going, keep trying, keep living.

Maybe I’m writing the stories I need to read, so that I can keep going, keep trying, keep living.

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