The Republican convention is over, and it was a mess. The Democratic convention has just started, and it’s a mess, too. We are going to have a choice between the first billionaire and the first woman President, and not only does neither side trust the other, half of them don’t trust their own side. And I can’t even go outside away from the TV, because there’s a massive brush fire 20 miles away and the air tastes like a barbecue. Not “barbecue,” a barbecue. (Oh, and it was 107 degrees today.)*
I’m working on a novel, last in a trilogy, and I really want to get it done so that I can move onto something else. It’s been fun, but now I’m looking forward to something new. Except I suddenly realized that one of the branching plot lines I was working on is going nowhere, and it has to be dumped, and there goes 5000 words. (Into a side file, of course; I may use them later.) Meanwhile, the other branch of the plot doesn’t have to be dumped–because it doesn’t exist. I haven’t made it up yet, and right now its prospects aren’t looking so good. When it’s 107 degrees and you can’t breathe the air and the country is split between the uptight righties, the dizzy lefties, and the “please just leave me the hell alone until December” crowd stuck in the middle, who can muster up the energy to write?
That’s correct: a writer. Because when the chips are down and the temperature is up, who else is going to talk about it? If it all goes into a handbasket, the last person on Earth will write it all down, hoping that someone, someday, will find it and learn how badly we screwed up. You think he won’t?
So if that theoretical man or woman can spend his or her last days scribbling on whatever flat surface is left, telling whoever comes next the Story of Man, what excuse do the rest of us have? It’s too hot? It’s too cold? Hillary Trump is threatening to ban Dodgers fans from leaving Los Angeles? That’s when we need to write. Writers are the ones who put everything down so everyone else can read it. Writers are the ones who tell others that we’re not alone, that we all have the same fears, and loves, and frailties. Writers are the ones who tell the stories that let us know it’s all going to be okay.
It isn’t easy to think of something to say. Writing is hard. I maintain that almost anyone can write, but others disagree. (Then again, there are those who think engineers can write user manuals. They are quite wrong.) But the harder it is, the more worthwhile it is. The only reason we know anything about anything is because somebody wrote it down.
So here I am, gearing myself up to write, because now I can’t not write. Right? Wrong. I’ve done my bit. I’ve lead my cheer. Now it’s up to you, because I have earned a rest.
*I am fully aware that compared to the firefighters on the line, the people who have lost their homes, and those who have been evacuated, I have nothing to complain about. I wish I could write a story where things were different.