Writers live for this stuff
Dystopian fiction was all the rage before we entered this actual dystopian event and virtually all of it was wrong. We do not have armed enclaves protecting supplies led by cultish personalities (unless you count Liberty College). People are not naturally distrustful of others as this progresses. There are no safe havens.
So, how will this get recorded and its stories told?
First, we have an unparalleled ability, to share the stories. And we are sharing quite openly. This morning I read of three friends, all in NYC, who are either sick or showing early signs and they are not hiding them. Their support systems are now here online, not down the hall. The people I see each morning walking their dogs are greeting each other, albeit quietly and as they walk a wide circle. The dogs don’t know and still want to get close.
Discounting the low budget speculative fiction (dystopia is lazy writing), we are going to see some strange stories come out of this strange time. I’m ready to start a third novel but the likely scenarios I’ve been contemplating for months are not capturing my interest. This weird day to day life is more unpredictable and novel. For example, my watch just told me my cell provider added 15 gig of data to my plan, unrequested and at no charge. That is not particularly dystopia, it’s just them pitching in and getting some good PR cred in the bargain.
If we are going to get this new strange literature, I do not believe we will know what it is until years later. Art takes time to distill and spread, even with our instant connections. This may be our ‘time of cholera’, but the things we learn change daily and we can’t really see them as we will.
I’ve been writing these daily little essays and observations for a few weeks now and there is no realistic end in sight yet to the pandemic. I’m guessing my observations will seem a little quaint or mannered in the future but I’m writing them because I want to remember these times as they feel now. I have not reread them and will not until that day when it feels like I should stop. Then hopefully I’ll take a train journey and look back on this experience in words. Trains are great places for writers and readers.