As authors, what do we do with it?

I’m in a quiet house this morning. My daughter is here, and she brought a Rottweiler puppy with her. These all belong to her room mate, and nobody seems to want this one. He’s cute as hell and they’re trying to give him away. I tried to snap a photo for you guys, but he’s kind of a perpetual motion machine. He looks more like a Black and Tan coonhound right now. They never got His tail docked, but I have a hunch this will change once he fills out. You’ll have to make due with Frankie and I.

As authors, we’re all kind of observant. There is a lot going on around us right now, and I wondered what to do with it all.

I remember my grandparents talking about quarantines and such. One of my grandmother’s sisters was quarantined at Ellis Island, because they thought she looked sickly. Grandma had to make her way to Utah alone. They were both children. I think grandma was eleven at the time, and her sister was a similar age. One parent in Wales, the other in Utah and they shipped them between the parents.

I’ve heard them talk about the kind of quarantines we see today, but always thought that was something for the history books. Something to use in one of my historical pieces, or maybe fantasy. Here we are in the 21st Century and living it. I told my son he should grab a couple of rolls of toilet paper and try to find a girlfriend this weekend. “Hey, baby. I have toilet paper.”

I added some quarantine issues to Viral Blues, but obviously got a few things wrong. I hope this doesn’t kill the enjoyment of the story. I had my quarantines limited to specific areas, and I never anticipated the hoarding and shortages that we’re seeing.

When I think about my Lanternfish project (70,000 words and growing) the Coronavirus isn’t going to make a difference. It’s set in a fantasy world, and nothing will have to change.

That may not be the case with my side project, currently called The Ballad of Mrs. Malony. (10,000 words and now what?) I dealt with some monsters in Viral Blues, but an intentional spreading of disease was the undertone of the story. This poses some issues for me. The Hat stories are set in the modern world. Sure it’s supernatural/paranormal, but in our world. I’ve already dealt with a virus in this series.

In the stories, Lizzie and the Pythons are a cover band that allows me to move them around the country to discover new paranormal adventures. Nice trick for an author. However, bands play in nightclubs. Those are all closed today. How realistic is it to have them doing this in their stories? I don’t want to trash what I’ve already created, but I have to admit the opportunity to show them out of work and have Lizzie bicker with The Hat over such things has merit. Maybe they have to deal with looters and riots. The Hat always said humans are the worst monsters of all.

Part of the problem is that I have long term plans for them. I have two and a half more books living in my head, and changing continuity of their story isn’t something I relish. I’m not saying it can’t be done, but it’s a great way to lose interest in writing them.

In a perfect world, this will all blow over in six months. I’ll look like a genius to future readers, because I have my virus story in the continuity of the characters, and nobody will check the publication dates and compare them to the current outbreak. Fun times for everyone, etc.

What about our future projects? Are all of the real world stories going to have to acknowledge the happenings of 2020? Our world will change because of this, whether it involves where people work, health insurance, vaccines, or any number of things. Our economy will change, too. Should we all hold off on real world settings until we see where we’re headed? It might seem odd to readers if the world looks like 2019, but they’re reading it in 2022. Maybe traditional things will become a page in the history books, and having fictional kids going door to door on Halloween will be an archaic reference. Big family Thanksgiving??? I think you can see where I’m going with this.

I decided years ago that any science fiction I write is better in the near future. I don’t think I write outer space all that well. Honestly, it’s okay not to be great at everything. Having some parameters on my imagination is a good thing. However, I have a nearly complete storyboard for a post apocalyptic story. The world tore itself apart, and I can draw from some of the things I see going on today. But, do I have to acknowledge 2020 in some small way? Today would be part of history in the setting this story will take place in.

You’ll probably see me around next week as I continue touring Grinders around. This is some of my near future science fiction, and doesn’t reference Coronavirus at all. It didn’t exist when I was writing it.

I’ve talked about my concerns with writing around the outbreak. I also have to admit it offers some new and realistic opportunity. Your super spy runs into a roadblock because the airports are closed. Cute romance involves a quarantine, but they both live in the same building. Heroic stories about coming up with a vaccine, or delivering one to a decimated area. There are some possibilities here. We can use the selfishness, create new forms of prejudice, add some riots, all of these make good story turns.

Since I’m rambling, here’s one more Boyack thought for you. When the media creates the next generation of heroes for us, I hope they skip over the sports stars, the box office heroes, and the musical starlets who can’t seem to wear enough clothes. Maybe there ought to be some space reserved for the scientists, the CDC workers, even the truck drivers, and those who are serving our elderly. I would watch their awards show.

Talk to me people. Do we need to rethink our works in progress? Are you excited to fictionalize the things you see going on today? Do we need to reassess what a real hero is? I know you’re all home, and if you’re reading blogs this weekend, I’d love to hear from you.


Filed under Writing

58 responses to “As authors, what do we do with it?

  1. Real world stories use what they need to use for the purpose of story. You don’t have to have the coronavirus be a factor for Lizzie and the Hat even if they’re in the modern world. The quarantine isn’t a permanent situation, so you can have it take place afterwards. Don’t even have to mention it. Consider how many modern stories are written without mentioning 9/11 or any of the effects that had on society. People won’t really complain if you don’t skip it since it’s fiction too. I’d write the story that is in your head and leave reality to do its own thing. Keep in mind this is coming from a fantasy author who doesn’t let reality get in the way. Grain of salt and such.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. I’m going with what I planned for my WIP. I think COVID-19 is going to be like 9/11 in the future. Something that defined a generation and changed our lives a little, though life eventually got back to normal. Even if it’s a slightly new normal. I’m not rewriting right now to accommodate what else might be.

    As for this: “When the media creates the next generation of heroes for us, I hope they skip over the sports stars, the box office heroes, and the musical starlets who can’t seem to wear enough clothes. Maybe there ought to be some space reserved for the scientists, the CDC workers, even the truck drivers, and those who are serving our elderly.” Amen to that!

    Liked by 2 people

  3. Poor puppy, I hope someone takes him. As for quarantine, it’s nothing like it used to be. Now we have our T.V.s our computers and cell phones. Lots of people self quarantine on a regular basis just because they have so much entertainment in their homes. Hope this all goes away soon though.

    Liked by 2 people

  4. I like the idea of making heroes out of those who go about their everyday life in spite of the chaos.

    Liked by 2 people

  5. It is amazing how our lives have changed, Craig. I first heard about COVID-19 on 5 February and now we are all isolated at home and business are closing left right and centre. Are you working from home now too?

    Liked by 2 people

  6. A writer can use anything for ideas, but most big real events eventually fade in time. The Great Depression affected LOTS of people, so did the great world wars, but how often are they a part of a story now unless a writer purposely includes them? As for real world heroes, I think TV is doing a pretty good job of making doctors (Grey’s Anatomy), cops, and fire fighters heroes, but no matter who’s the focus of a story, the true story is about personal conflict, sports hero or RN. That’s what brings a story to life. As for scientists? You’d have to be pretty darn brainy to pull that off (I think), but I think a couple of movies tried to show big brains battling to fight a pandemic. Enjoy the new puppy. I sure hope someone sees him and loves him.

    Liked by 3 people

  7. I like the idea of that the hard working that get us through this time get honored. Honestly, the rich don’t need any more stuff.

    I don’t believe you need to make any changes to your WIP. Fiction is fiction and people do have an imagination.

    Right now I am part of an essential business and I am still working along with my husband and son. I am praying for a swift end to this virus and for life to get back to normal, or get along at its new normal.

    Liked by 3 people

  8. Hi Craig. I picked up a related idea from a peer and thought I’d develop.

    In short, I’d like to invite non-bloggers to give us bloggers a test read to experience some of the wealth of material available outside of bound books, Facebook and Netflix during this time of lock down quarantine. Would you be willing to give this post a read and let me know how it hits you?

    The outreach is for new readers of blogs, but I’d bet you’d have some good ideas about making it work better or even good paths for distribution and expanding the outreach to more fertile fields.

    Thanks for any thoughts or pointers.
    Stay safe

    Liked by 2 people

    • That’s a neat idea. However, promoting your own blog- on your own blog is going to cause some issues. You might take it to Twitter or somewhere to spread the word a bit. In other words, “a new reader of blogs” need a reason to find a blog in the first place. I didn’t see a twitter button, so I copied the link and shared it there anyway.

      Liked by 2 people

      • Thanks Craig. I don’t really use Twitter so didn’t think to include it, but you raise a good point that those are for my readers, not me. This is corrected now.

        You are also correct that I should not expect to re-evangelize those who already follow my blog. What you could not have seen is that I shared this post on a large Facebook group I’m part of.

        Collecting other bloggers to share the invitation would help too.

        Many thanks and best wishes.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Some groups on FB are pretty active. Good idea.

        Liked by 1 person

  9. I was talking to a friend today about the next books including some mentioning of this virus. Since I half feel like I’m caught up in a fantasy book, , I wouldn’t be surprised if the virus featured more in the fantasy genre. I wouldn’t change my wip to accommodate the outbreak because if things go on as they are, people would like to escape to books that have a more familiar and relaxing setting. Good luck.

    Liked by 2 people

  10. I have no plans to change any of my stories at the moment. And I have a feeling there will be a truckload of novels coming out in the future where they talk about Coronavirus. Not sure I’ll read them. I’m in the healthcare field and though I’m not in direct patient care, the real world is enough for me.

    I agree about the heros!

    Liked by 2 people

  11. Reblogged this on Where Genres Collide Traci Kenworth YA Author & Book Blogger for all Genres as well as craft books and commented:
    It is something to think about, Craig. The future, as you said, will never be the same. I’ve seen more rudeness than I cared to this past week. And a few shy smiles, gentle caring among individuals. I think we saw the best and worst of all of us with this experience. Take care.


  12. I wouldn’t change anything I’m currently working on, unless it works for the story. But you’d need to bear it in mind for future projects set either in present day or the future, I think.

    Liked by 1 person

  13. I think the closest comparison we have to what we are experiencing is 9-1-1, but on a whole new level. I don’t see this going away anytime soon, and call me a dooms-dayer, but I believe there is something much bigger than COVID-19 driving this whole thing. Our economy is taking such a huge blow. How do we come back from that? As far as our writing, I don’t see that this changes anything for me. Fiction is fiction and can always be adjusted to a different time period, if need be. I hope someone takes the unwanted pup soon! Hang in there and stay upbeat!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you, Jan. I have a theory that “rusty” is already at his permanent home. I hope that isn’t the case. I’m watching everything closely. If things make a sea change in homelessness, unemployment, or other economic factors, I’m going to adjust it for future works. For right now, I’m just going to keep doing what I do.

      Liked by 1 person

  14. Your advise to your son, love it! Laughed out loud!

    Liked by 1 person

  15. Whether we adjust anything in our WIPs probably depends on what the WIP is. My Minstrels of Skaythe are in a different world, so unlike your Viral Blues and Grinders, I don’t have to account for real-world history.

    It’s very instructive to observe people’s reactions, though! There’s something just bizarre about hoarding toilet paper, of all things.

    Liked by 1 person

  16. Without spoiling too much, I had planned for part of my WIP (not the one I’m editing, but the one I’m writing), to be set in today’s times, which would mean 2020. Now with this having happened in 2020, I’m going to have to drop it back to 2019 just to achieve that ‘normality’ I need for the events of the WIP. OR…. I could alter things and make the Covi-19 outbreak part of the events of the WIP… but honestly, with the events of now changing so much, so quickly, I’d rather not mess with it!
    Stay safe, Craig.
    PS: SUCH a cute pupper!

    Liked by 1 person

  17. Your second-last paragraph is spot on. We are now seeing who the real heroes are, if we didn’t already know, the ones who care for our sick and educate our kids and make sure we have all the things we need to live. And already there are drops in pollution worldwide. As someone already said, perhaps we’re the virus. I hope we come out of this a better species. As for story-telling, I’m just keeping going with the work I’m doing, but I do think it will change subsequent works. Strange times indeed – stay safe!

    Liked by 1 person

  18. You touched on one of the things I’ve been saying around my house for a couple of weeks which is the looting and rioting I anticipate. I think you could even take writing in a direction that this Covid-19 doesn’t necessarily go, but “could” go, if you know what I mean, such as quarantining all those who violate their stay-at-home orders and locking them in a new type of prison so they don’t infect others, then see what becomes of them. As far as future writing, I think we have to wait and see how much changes permanently to “new normal” and how much eventually goes back to “old normal.” But I don’t think writing with the old normal in mind will hurt sales, because I believe people will want to remember how it was. Change is difficult enough for many people when they have the choice to make a change, but when it’s thrust upon them, it could just be a stressful reminder of upheaval. But that’s just my own personal opinion. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  19. I happen to know more readers are using ebooks now than they were a week ago, so I’d say that’s a step — I’m sure, if able, some will return to analog, but I bet a lot of readers get won over by ereading.
    While I am a sincere fan of Dystopian lit, I can’t say I’m interested right now.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Some of the current world feels like low hanging fruit to me. I’m glad to have two works happening now that I can stick with. It’s almost comforting to know that I’ve written my virus story, so I’ll be less inclined to revisit it.


  20. Thanks for sharing. I am scrolling through WP Reader and came across your blog. Good stuff. I hope that you have adapted now, since it is several months later. My blog-to-book project that I am actively writing started as a what if… and I am constantly adapting the story of future us with things that could likely happen or will (oh and have also). I hope this finds you well fine sir. Thanks again.

    Liked by 1 person

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