Reality, Fantasy and Writing Through Chaos
2020 has brought with it an unusual dilemma for contemporary fiction writers. What are the odds of selling a novel set in the pandemic? The timeline for a manuscript to travel from final draft to bookstore shelf is often years. Given the rate of social, political and scientific change these days, the world will likely be a very different place by the time any story written now finds its way to readers.
And then, how will readers want to remember 2020? As an inflection point? As a nightmare? Will they want, instead, to escape to freer times of decades or centuries past, or into worlds born in the imaginations of fantasy writers? Glassy-eyed from "Zoom school" and lonely from quarantine, what will it even mean to be a reader in 2021?
I find myself facing this conundrum in my writing day job as well. How does one strike the right balance between acknowledging our current unique reality and offering a respite, some advice or even a laugh?
For me, right now, it comes down to my gut. I am trying to look with clarity, write with honesty and hope that what winds up on the page will ring true for readers.
So, am I writing another contemporary novel right now? Yes, I am. Will I sell it? Who's to say? The important thing is that I am writing. And I hope that you are, too.