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Writing Ruminations

Writing is such an internal process. Why not make those private ruminations public? This is how stories take shape and grow.

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Location: Happy Valley, Oregon, United States

I've been supporting myself as a writer for many years and am watching the changes in the publishing world with fascination. For me, sharing the craft, teaching, is as creatively satisfying as the writing process itself.

Monday, March 19, 2007

Reality and Fiction

Two weeks ago, Marilyn Holt, Amy Thompson, and myself put on a panel on the effects of global disaster for the Potlatch SF convention. We wanted to take it beyond the usual Hollywoodesque 'what are all the awful things that can happen' list of possible disasters. Hollywood can use all those special effects and do that so much more colorfully. We worked instead on the 'what's it gonna mean for you' realities of day to day climage change, no tidal waves engulfing New York, no killer super storms to scour the entire US clean in one fell swoop. Marilyn Holt did a great job of providing visual illustrations of global climate change and we talked about the economics of multiple Katrinas worldwide, trade and food and money and the role of agribusiness worldwide in the threat of serious food shortages.

Afterward, the Programming Chair told us that most people were really happy with the panel (we did a really good job, in my totally biased opinion!). But she did receive one complaint that reality had no place at a literary conference. I brushed that off at the time. You can't please everybody. But it has continued to bother me. We have way too many opportunities to ignore reality every day. How much of our news reporting is driven by ratings? If you report boring old 'the world's gonna end' facts about agriculture, shipping, balance of trade, and so forth, how long are you going to keep popular attention? Time's better spent on celebrity misbehavior and catastrophic events right? Rather than on the increasing urbanization of low lying coastal areas. You know, as a whole, we seem to be much more reactive than proactive. Maybe that's a species trait we need to overcome? Personally, I think that's the main strength of SF and it's why I love the genre. Sure you can escape to fantasy planets and ride dinosaurs or battle space pirates, but it also allows some of us step forward into future and show our readers a glimpse of things that could very well come to pass if we don't stop 'em in time.

When it comes to our global future, I really do not want to be proved right. And I think that requires a lot more thinking about that future than might be either comfortable or convenient.

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