I don't have to tell you things are bad. Everybody knows they're bad. Times are crazy. But what can we as writers do?
Well, write, of course.
Our stories matter.
Look at the stories from the last time our country was in a major crisis, whether that was World War II or the Great Depression. Some of my favorite stories from these eras taught me how to be a better person, or how to feel about things. Look at what Grapes of Wrath did to make people aware of the plight of those suffering the worst in the depression. Or all of Charlie Chaplin's shorts, where he's a down on his luck hobo, but still lovable, just trying to scrape by. Look at all the material the Walt Disney Company produced during World War II to combat the Nazis.
Art was used to elevate understanding and empathy for the issues we hold dear in the face of demonstrable evil in the world and inaction (or downright opposition) from our own government. We need to use stories to do a lot of things. We need them to build empathy for others, to let people understand the struggles of people not like themselves. We need stories as warnings. We need stories as examples.
I'm not saying you need to stop working on what you're working on, but think about how the book or short you're writing might make the world a better place. Can adding a more diverse cast make the swashbuckling tale you're already telling open up the world to a reader not traditionally represented? Can your story deal with themes that might be challenging that will help people understand those that are different from them?
As a genre writer, it's easy to take the lead of Star Trek and talk about current events through the lens of science fiction. That's not a bad thing. It's an important thing.
Stories are what we use to learn. Right now, the world needs as much learning as it can get.
Stories are also how us creative types fight back, right? They're our ammunition. We're able to influence the world with our ability to feel. I wrote before about the symbiotic relationship between art and politics, and in that post I quoted Marshal Mcluhan: "Art at its most significant is a Distant Early Warning System that can always be relied upon to tell the old culture what is beginning to happen to it."
We're that early warning system, sure, but we can (and should) also try to move the needle on society to make it a better place for everyone. To use it to fight fascism. To fight revisionist history. To fight the evil people in the world who think they can impose their world-view, divorced from reality, on the world.
That's what I'll work on.
I hope you join me in that fight.
As a reminder: Please join my short story Patreon here. Your contributions to the Patreon help me write more like this.
The Aeronaut and Escape Vector are still out and still need your purchases and reviews. If nothing else, they can use you telling people about them. If you want signed copies, visit the shop here on this page.
Also! here's the full list of "rules and guidelines" I've been collecting over my years of studying writing advice and process.
As far as my work outside of all this: There's a lot of great stuff on Big Shiny Robot! and Full of Sith for you.