I just turned 38 which made me realize I had not published any new work in exactly one year, since I wrote an essay about women not being believed and Rebecca Solnit’s essay “Cassandra Among The Creeps” after Trump’s infamous bus comments. It’s been a year since the election too. I think these two things are connected: as Toni Morrison said,
“This is precisely the time when artists go to work. There is no time for despair, no place for self-pity, no need for silence, no room for fear. We speak, we write, we do language. That is how civilizations heal.”
Yet I have felt the need for stillness, for reflection, and for, even, silence. Turning inward before output is possible. Or at least that’s my theory for not having written (nonfiction, at least).
I drive by a giant banner of the Toni Morrison quote reminding me to get to work every day as I enter the UCSC campus to teach a course on writing about social justice. I feel odd that this year I am not writing about it myself, especially in light of the Weinstein saga and the floodgates that opened, and especially as a feminist and writer – and feminist writer. But I’ve been working behind the scenes on some new projects: a short story about the effects of climate change, automation, AI, and the Trump presidency 100 years from now. And my novel, The Distractions. But as my mother would tell you, I don’t like talking about works in progress. Maybe I don’t want to jinx it. Or expend energy that I should reserve for the work.
Fiction has been calling me back lately, I think because the world in reality right now is just so bizarre. Morrison is right. Art is refuge, art is expression, and art is necessary in times when mass-scale healing is required. Times like now. And fiction, I’ve found, takes more time. So, back to it.