I wonder sometimes what the legacy of this worldwide pandemic will be for writers. In some ways, writing has gone from strength to strength as a way to escape the stress of the current situation. Both as a writer and a reader I have found stories to be a welcome release from thinking about what’s going on in the world.
It doesn’t take a pandemic to make me seek refuge like that but it has become more necessary than ever now. Sometimes it’s a way to reassure myself that I’m a good writer. There’s nothing like reading a book that you feel you could have written better to make you feel all smug and warm inside. Whether we’re right or wrong in our assumption doesn’t matter, we can see where we feel our fellow writer has fallen short and resolve to never make the same mistakes ourselves.
Other times I read because I want to remind myself what I’m aspiring to. I want to immerse myself in writing so good that it makes me envious and fills me with admiration. Reading a great book is like eating a fine meal or looking at a beautiful painting, it feeds the soul and makes you appreciate real talent. It also reminds you that talent takes hard work and practice. They don’t say ‘suffer for your art’ for nothing.
Most of the time I read to get away from the real world because when I read, I'm transported somewhere else. I can be a young man on an adventure with dragons or a female astronaut out in space. I can be an alcoholic detective or a fussy little old lady. Either way I know I will solve the crime and get the bad guys. I can travel to a Greek island or the mean streets of New York, the wild mountains of Scotland or the freezing arctic. Reading is my ticket to ride.
In a world where our list of possible destinations has shrunk considerably, it seems that writing will only be more in demand. Now more than ever, people want to get away and with most other avenues shut down, reading becomes one of the few ways they can achieve this. Theatre, film, and television have all had to adapt to the new normal but books and writing aren’t constrained by social distancing regulations. If anything, the world has given us new material and new places to explore. Writers can take their readers to the past, the future or strange new worlds. We can speculate and illustrate what the world will be like after this pandemic has passed and our characters can travel, hug, and live their lives virus-free… or not… it’s entirely up to us as writers.
Where will you take your readers today?