Everybody knows what food poisoning feels like. Two exits; no waiting. Retching, dry heaves, misery, which you know will resolve in a day or two most likely.
Since the election, many creative people have been suffering from News poisoning, with mental effect of a similar nature; the problem is the source of the poison isn’t going away anytime soon.
I know some people who have put their creative lives on hold to be more politically active. I know those who have decided to take a step back from current events and continue to work in their creative careers.
And of course, many many people struggling to do both at once, and feeling torn up about it. They aren’t active enough, or their work is suffering, taking a back seat to the burning need of the resistance.
Successful artists can afford to wear their heart on their sleeves. Stephen King is free to speak his mind, but as a fledgling SF author, to speak out on politics costs you some fraction of your audience; adult SF is a small audience to start out with, when compared to many genres (YA, Romance, Mass Market Thrillers) and slicing that readership in half out of the gate feels self-sabotaging.
I’ve worked as an unpaid, Krugman-esque op ed writer in social media for decades now. Inhaling news, and exhaling commentary, building a following of a few thousand, and losing it again as my interest waxed and waned. I’m Krugman, without the Nobel Prize, which is to say, I’m nothing like Krugman.
I’m more like a sports fan who thinks he could be a radio color commentator, but who has never had that gig a day in his life. My efforts to monetize this work have generated a little money, not much, but then, my fiction writing hasn’t made much either.
One wants to combine all of one’s selves into one unified force and punch through to success, to victory; but one fears that mixing one’s politics with one’s fiction will result in unpublishable message stories, half-assed polemic.
Writing dystopia’s feels a little on the nose; writing rosy futures feels absurd. Secondary creations which sidestep the moment feel irrelevant. Letting the climate kill your creative life feels like giving up.
My only way through it, is to try to do more, and talk less about it. Take the time I used to spend mulling politics, use it to advocate for the things I believe in (science, fairness, equality, the environment) and keep on keeping on.
So far, it’s not working. The world swirls around me. I struggle not to hate the 27% of the country who have plunged the world into chaos, and the 73% who let them, myself included. I struggle to believe in a decent future, as the extrapolation machine in my brain sees untold misery unfolding over the next few decades.
I believe in a 73% solution. That the 73% who didn’t vote for chaos can eventually lead us away from a looming world of environmental disaster and massive human die offs. I give money and time to the 73%.
but talking about it… as I’m doing now? Why don’t I stop doing that and write?
One thing at a time, maybe. Learn to read like I was fourteen again; then maybe I’ll be able to focus on my creative work like I was twenty five.