Writing Into 2012

For some of us more sensitive or anxious types, 2012 may feel like it's being shoved down our throats. Does anyone out there feel like: "I don't want to go there"? After all, we're in the middle of an extended economic malaise without a clear end; we might be harvested as a food group by a race of two legged reptiles from outer-space, and the presidential candidates seemed to have been chosen by the producers of Saturday Night Live.

But is "now" really much different than it always is? Can any of us feel where we stand as a society right now, and reflect it in what we write? When things change do they essentially remain the same? Some decades are comparatively care-free, while others are conflicted, and fast-changing technology will provoke universal upheavals. But aren't these the same cycles that always define and dramatize human history? Doesn't each generation confront its reality with the same toolbox of emotions, wants and needs? Maybe not. Generations of violence, chaos and fear will paint what children are taught to expect, even if better days are likely to prevail. Conversely, those who are brought forth in societies blessed with generations of harmony and serenity will follow a similar trajectory. Unless things change, in which case they may be the deadest meat of all.

In America, my generation (or at least many of us) was taught that this is a very rich and powerful country that will never lose its course. The 1973 "Oil Shock" and subsequent recession was packaged as a "blip", not a paradigm shift. It was expected that American living standards would always rise and that we would always be the richest people in the world. Perhaps I'm a jaded Long Islander from the 60s & 70s, but wasn't there a time when people with ordinary jobs could support a family even if the wife didn't work?

Anyway, what does any of this have to do with writing? Well, if writing is about life and how it's experienced as we move from youth, to middle-years to advanced years, then this ramble is relevant. Writers are challenged to integrate themselves with what is outside of them, and from that cocktail comes expression. When writers feel and deliver what touches the souls of others, a special joining is achieved which can reattach itself many times over maybe forever. That's what can bring meaning and healing, and even the loneliest reader can sense a powerful belonging to a purpose without boundaries. Life is where we begin, writing is where we go.

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