My writing has not been going well the last couple of days. I’ve felt a strange lassitude, as if none of it matters. As if my stories are irrelevant in a world where there’s so much dissension, such a lack of willingness to actually listen to each other’s concerns. Not each other’s words, but our deepest concerns: our fears, rational and irrational, our dreams, our hopes for our children and our world. I began to think, why am I even bothering to write? We’re so busy arguing with each other that no one seems interested in reading, in thinking, in doing much more than reacting to the latest news event.
But then I remembered: There have been news events to react to, people doing and saying atrocious things, since the beginning of time (or at least since the beginning of gossip, which I suspect began as soon as we humans had language). My goal for my stories has always been to try to help us see each other more clearly, to understand ourselves and one another and our deepest concerns. Because I believe that we’re all more alike, deep down, than we are different.
My fiction is set in the past for two reasons:
1. I am convinced that we humans haven’t really changed all that much over the millennia. People are people, no matter where you go.
2. Sometimes it helps to step into another era to see the fundamentals more clearly, to free up our imaginations past the latest news event to the point where we can see another perspective.
I hope my stories nudge my readers just a little toward looking again at what we think we know, examining our own motivations before we jump to conclusions about those of others.
My work is not overtly political. Sometimes I feel guilty about that, as if I’m avoiding a duty. But in another sense, it is deeply political. It is based on the idea that everyone has a story to tell, some knowledge that the rest of us can relate to on a deep level, that we’re all more alike in our pain and fear than we are different. My political stance is that we’d do well to take more time to listen to each other and less time talking.
And so I will go on writing what seems like simple entertainment, in the hope that someone, somewhere, will pause long enough to read something I’ve written and really hear what I’m trying to say.