I don’t have to tell you that we are in the midst of a tumultuous time. The last eleven months have been anywhere from disruptive to horrendous, depending on where you live.
But depending on how old you are, this isn’t your first go-round with pandemics and political turmoil.
Today, January 18, 2021, is Martin Luther King Day.
His rise to public prominence, his famous “I Have a Dream Speech,” and his shocking assassination all took place during the 1960’s – a time of political turmoil.
Just think of the nation-shattering events that took place during that decade –
Wait, let’s narrow this down to one year: 1968.
On January 23, North Korea seized the USS Pueblo, initiating an eleven-month standoff between the US and North Korea
On January 30, the Tet Offensive was launched (part of the Vietnam War) and continued into September.
On April 4, Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated in Memphis, sparking riots in more than one hundred cities across the country.
In April, student protests at Columbia University in New York sparked similar campus protests across the country.
On June 4, Robert Kennedy (John F. Kennedy’s brother) was shot in Los Angeles while campaigning for president.
On August 28, anti-war protests outside the Democratic National Convention in Chicago turned violent, now known as the Chicago Riots.
It was a year filled with violence, division, and hatred. It was the capstone of the 60’s – a decade that changed America.
What other events shaped that decade? Sputnik, the Cuban Missile crisis, the construction of the Berlin Wall, the US involvement in the Vietnam War exploded, Woodstock happened in the midst of the 1969 “Hong Kong Flu” pandemic, Malcolm X was assassinated in 1965 sparking riots in Los Angeles that left more than thirty people dead, and John F. Kennedy was assassinated in 1963.
Is this beginning to sound familiar?
We aren’t the first generation of writers to be telling our stories in the midst of great upheaval and change – or even a pandemic.
Here is a smattering of the books that were published during the tumultuous 1960’s (there were hundreds):
To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich by Alexander Solzhenitsyn
The Godfather by Mario Puzo
The Spy Who Came in From the Cold by John Le Carre
I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angelou
Green Eggs and Ham by Dr. Seuss
Writers write. In spite of what is going on outside their writing cave.
So, have the events of the past eleven months affected your writing life?
Have you spent days staring at your computer, feeling unable to put two words together?
Do you feel like the well of ideas has gone dry?
I’m not surprised if you said yes to every one of these!
Writing is hard (as if I have to tell you that!)
My theory (completely untested and based only on my own observations) is that our bodies and brains can only handle one major project at a time. So, while we’re being distracted by pandemics and politics, our minds are looking at our work-in-progress and saying, “I can’t handle that right now.”
What is a writer to do?
Well, we could ignore the news.
Or we could unplug from everyone or anything.
But neither of those are realistic.
Writers write, remember?
Maybe this is the time to put all that “fight or flight” energy into putting our reaction to the world’s events into our stories.
When historical romance wasn’t working for me back in April, I started writing a cozy mystery. Believe me, thinking and plotting how my bad guy is going to meet his doom (in the form of police handcuffs) is a great outlet for my 2020 emotional roller coaster!
Or when I need a break from my cozy, I go back to my historical romance. There is nothing like escaping to the Old West where the deer and the antelope play. Living in another world for a while is a great way to handle the 2020 stress.
Still don’t feel like you can write? I’m sure authors sixty years ago felt the same way.
But think of this: Where would our culture be without the books I listed above? There would never be an offer we couldn’t refuse, Scout would only exist in Harper Lee’s imagination, and Sam I Am would still be trying to get someone – anyone – to try green eggs and ham.
Where will our culture be if you never wrote the story God has laid on your heart?
The comments are open and waiting for you! Have you had trouble writing during the past year? Or has it been a year of great inspiration and productivity for you?
Where do you see your writing going in 2021?
One commenter will win an audio copy of "The Sound of Distant Thunder," book one in The Amish of Weaver's Creek series!