Please Kill Me,
It’s a tough time to be a creative—particularly if you fancy yourself a writer, at any level or capacity. I don’t believe that the current state of our union has had any adverse effect in respect to creativity. However, it’s certainly changed the creative landscape and forced us to reconsider our previous affairs, projects, and endeavors.
This isn’t to say that you should/shouldn’t toss out that Zombie-novel or reframe that fan-fic romance tale to accommodate social distancing (though, I’ve seen it done). Rather, I’m acknowledging the cultural shift as well as the sudden increased difficulty that our market now faces/will face. People want context. People want solutions. People want something to relate to. Anything that doesn’t somehow tie to that can be easily dismissed as socially-disconnected or obtuse. It sucks.
Despite that, an argument could be made in favor of the adjacent escapist narratives. Ideally our job (as fiction writers) is to provide the reader with a world that separates them from the monotony of day-to-day. By all means, if you’ve still got that fantastical world revolving in your brain, WRITE IT. However, for more than just a few of you, I’ll bet you’ve been hard-pressed to think of much beyond what our present has become. The unceremonious invasion of reality seeks to bleed into our work and alter our original intent.
The virus. The quarantine. Police brutality. The protests. The looting. The shooting. And everything in between has been nothing if not a perpetual inundation that takes hold of our creativity and threatens to infiltrate our once freed minds for the remainder of our formative years. If you MUST, then you should respond with a creation that aligns with this perspective. However, I believe that it’s equally important to retain and protect the individual ideas and perspectives that gave us our voice.
It’s easy to get dragged into the social narrative and feel compelled to speak out in favor of your side. Again, if you’re so inclined, you should write your heart out with furious fingers. To the remainder of you, those who may not quite have formed an opinion or choose to remain on the fringes of this situation, I extend this friendly invitation to remain intact as the creative you have always been and desire to be.
Rather than target “hot-topics” or half-heartedly insert yourself into the current conversation, remember why you began this journey to begin with. Rather than reposition yourself for appeasement, dare to write in defiance of that impulse and create the thing that you were put here to create. Rather than fall silently into the hordes of those targeting an ingenuous opportunity, choose to write for yourself—for the people that will one day seek you.
No matter how this whole thing plays out, there will still be an audience desperately searching for something new. We shouldn’t allow any amount of influence to adversely affect our voice. Sure, if you find yourself inspired by an aspect of the times, USE IT. If you find that a particular situation moves you to a certain plot or narrative framework—GOOD.
My warning is less one of influence and more one concerned with conformity. As emotionally heated as things may be, they should never hit us so hard as to annihilate our individuality. Speak on it. Evolve from it. Allow it to inspire. But be wary of becoming the kind of creative that you wouldn’t recognize six months ago. Be wary of losing yourself in the ongoing fray of popular conversation. Yes, this situation is serious. No, it is not the norm. Nor should you let it fundamentally change the thing you love.
When this is all eventually over—unrecognizable, though life may become, society will still be here. Humanity will remain as well. There will still be love. There will still be hate. There will still be corruption. There will still be faith. There will still be countless human experiences, thoughts, and interactions that we’d be wise to pay mindful attention to. My grand fear is that this current state of madness will be ever-extended through the virulent perpetuation of harsh memories and directionless persistence. Should we remember it? Of course! Should it define us until our dying days? I certainly hope not.
Again, this is not to say that if you’re moved to do so, you shouldn’t. Rather, I seek to encourage those who may yet deem their individualism and perspective null-in void. I seek to embolden those who may fear that their ideas are no longer relevant. I seek to buoy the continued growth of our beloved artwork, that society may avoid or have an escape from the tidal-wave of pandemic-related (or adjacent) creative output that assuredly lies ahead of us. Don’t let it break your creativity. Don’t let it change your voice.
For a bit of context, I’ll say that my fear is primarily rooted in the redundant “money-first” mentality of Hollywood. Economic motivations aside (admittedly, this is an idealistic post), I believe in the value of unique creativity over the proliferation of derivative ideas.
They did it with westerns. Then they did it with mafia-movies. Then with alien movies. And now, with superheroes. Don’t get me wrong, each of the genres have had classics, duds, and middling offerings. All the while, a METRIC SH*T-TON of new ideas and creations went completely overlooked or ignored. I don’t want to see this happen with the writing community (again). Least of all, just so that we could re-live this crappy timeline we wish would end. Remember it. Engage with it. Support those who interpret it well. BUT by NO MEANS should this define us over the coming years, more than it already has.
So, create. Create for yourself. Create for those looking beyond this. Fight back against the impulse and market-pressure to lose yourself in the minefield of this bullsh*t. Instead, rise above it and allow yourself to flourish freely and organically.
At the very least, that’s what I intend to do.
*steps off soapbox*
*gets back to writing*
Until Next Time,
The world is a dark place. Let’s see how deep the rabbit-hole goes…