I had one of those dread-saturated 3:00 AM awakenings last week.
The initial panic resulted from a sudden awareness that all the most dire warnings regarding the upcoming election are virtually certain to come true.
The Transition Integrity Project, a nonpartisan group of academics, journalists, and current and former government and party officials, has simulated the four most likely scenarios, and all but one results in widespread violence and a Constitutional crisis.
[Note: I didn’t realize until after I’d written this post that it would be going up on the anniversary of the 9/11 attacks—but, even so, it remains eerily relevant even in that unexpected light.]
As often happens when one considers the world at the Witching Hour, the Hour of the Wolf—the time after midnight and before dawn when, legend tells us, the portal between this world and the beyond opens up—thoughts that, during the day, would be mere considerations became harsh, absolute reckonings.
Stop being naive, my mind told me. The life you’ve known is coming to an end. The absolute worst that could happen is going to happen and there’s nothing you can do to stop it.
Spoiler alert: I saw things differently after a while, especially come morning. And though that did allow me to function, I can’t say for certain the haunting, visceral sense of doom I felt is misguided. It’s one reason I’m volunteering for a number of get-out-the-vote organizations—to prevent what I fear will be an unavoidable crisis.
But as I was still in the grip of this initial panic, another sense of dread arose, one related to writing—which is why I’m bringing it up here.
I’ve just finished a dystopian novel and am researching and plotting the next, books that address what I fear will be our future, and soon, if we do not pull back from the abyss.
Lying there in the dark, I felt that terrible shock you get when it seems you’ve made a terrible mistake.
Who will want to read about an imaginary America on fire when the very real America all around them is literally in flames?
I wasn’t worried whether the book would find an agent or if it would sell. I was doubting my own judgment as a novelist—how had I been so self-absorbed not to see the bigger picture?
In wanting to write something I considered important, something that spoke to both my deepest passions and my greatest fears, I’d misunderstood one of the key premises of the genre I’d chosen.