“Everything is the same these days” — the useless insight from every 90’s-born, Mean Girls is a classic!, Nolan/Tarantino-fluffing film critic. Swallowing opinions wholesale in an echo chamber of likes or thumbs up icons and scrutinising the relevance of informed opinions. The model shape of a Dunning/Krueger mass burning the intellectuals at the stake — not dissimilar to a religious cult or certain capitol-raiding, tangerine-supporting fuckwits.
In fact it’s become a cliche in itself to compare modern times to 1984 or Brave New World or Kafka, such is its prescience, yet here we are burning books for homogenised pleasure-seeking lotus eaters. An entertainment ouroboros of roughly 10 years in length and shortening everyday with faster internet speeds and even faster opinions.
If this all seems familiar and you’re wondering how to create something new, let me begin with some sage advice: do not write about the fucking pandemic.
This is for two reasons:-
- If you didn’t start writing it at least two years before the pandemic then you’ve already missed the boat for being relevant.
- If the full extent of your creative muscles can’t muster up more than a global lockdown during a global lockdown, then I don’t believe you should be writing at all (unless you’re being paid a shit ton from assignment — in which case, carry on my wayward son).
Speculative fiction regarding a world-wide disease is no longer speculative for at least the next howeverthefuck long and unless you’ve got some fantastic insight, you shouldn’t be writing about it. To go back to 1984, totalitarianism was a constant focus in Orwell’s life; authoritarian teachers at St. Bede’s, serving the empire in Burma, the rise of fascism, the rise of communism, fighting in the Spanish Civil War to name but a few. It’s this preoccupation and direct experience that leads to creative flourishes like doublespeak and the ministry of love. It’s a gathering of knowledge, both lived and learned, processing that knowledge and creating a work of fiction that highlights the danger in groupthink.
He was not asked to stay indoors for a couple months to stop the spread of a quite preventable disease and decided to write some tome about the ‘oppressive’ government.
Unless you were at the forefront of WHO news, chasing down leads about substandard protective measures around the world or had some obscure case-file of weaponised viruses then you don’t really have a remit to write about the pandemic for anything else than your personal experience and what the hell makes you so goddamn special?
Perhaps, instead of vomiting back up whatever sugar-coated bullshit you’ve heard about COVID as an in for writing Contagion 2 or using the ‘genius’ Tenet to watch the jizz fly back in-reverse off the mirror (especially don’t do that, it was an awful film), you could unearth some rich untapped vein of creativity. All it takes is watching a couple old films, reading some classic books and having a little think in silence.
Don’t write what you know. Write what you know.