How Science Fiction Saved Me
It’s been a rough four years for us all. One of the many effects it’s had on me is to quash—or, I guess more accurately, redirect—my creativity.
Before November 2016, I had written two books and almost a third in my Wyoming Chronicles series. These are YA novels, British classics set in contemporary Wyoming. So fun to write! I’d written Moreau (The Island of Dr. Moreau) and Pride (Pride and Prejudice) and almost finished Solomon (King Solomon’s Mines). But the same week as the election, which devastated me and so many others and caused a bit of a mental breakdown, I also got this series rejected by traditional publishers for the final time.
I quit writing. I hardly had the emotional energy to make it through the day, much less write. I think I listened to the same comfort music (Vince Guaraldi’s Charlie Brown Christmas) for a year straight.
Only in the last year have I started to come out of it. Like everyone I talk to, when the pandemic hit, I began to cook a lot. I’ve always cooked a lot because I love it, and I’m a good cook. It’s something I love and something I’ve devoted a lot of time to. I’m always trying new recipes from NYT Cooking or WaPo Voraciously or EatingWell.
I also dove headfirst back into science fiction. I’ve always loved science fiction. Ever since reading so much of it as a teenager—my brother had a subscription to Science Fiction Book Club—I have loved it. But I focused on literary fiction for much of my adult years, though I’ve always been an avid sci-fi movie buff. (The Expanse ROCKS!) And as part of that, I thought I’d try my hand at writing a science fiction novel. The result of that is the first book in my Mechalum Space series, The Language of Corpses.
The first step in creating my universe was to create a future history. Oh my gosh, I can’t tell you how fun that is and was! Thinking through, okay, here’s where we are today, and here’s where that technology is going to take us in 700 years. The rabbit holes I went down figuring it all out. So amazing. So fun. Absolutely the best!
We are living in a science fiction universe. All those things you’ve read about as possibilities are coming true. Just this week, we’re landing again on Mars and moving toward a permanent base on the Moon. Scientists on CERN are getting closer to understanding hydrogen antimatter, and they announced findings just this week. We will land humans on Mars in fifteen or twenty years, and we will be able to upload our consciousness into the computer in thirty. Seriously. Not just in fiction or in theory. In my lifetime.
We are living in a science fiction universe
And of course, the adults are in charge again. The forces of chaos and hate are at least going underground, and hopefully, the solutions offered by builders as opposed to destroyers—I told you we were living in a science fictional universe—will help enough people to turn them away from extremism.
It’s been the best of times. It’s been the worst of times, as they say. I am so lucky. I can work from home, which I never would have been able to do without the pandemic. I am able to help my teenagers do their school from home. My partner and I kept our jobs. We have options. We are so so lucky.
So I’m thankful. I’m still going through deep but functional depression, but I’m clawing my way to creativity again. I don’t think I’m alone in this.
Science fiction has saved me again, as it did when I was a teenager. And maybe, you'll find that it can save you too! The last year has been hard on everyone. So, what is your love? What do you love to do? Go and do it! Work at it! It will be worth it!
If you love science fiction like me, please check out my novel, The Language of Corpses. My editor and I are revising relaunching it, so there are some very exciting things ahead to be sure. And be sure to follow me on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram.
My heart goes out to you and your loved ones. We’re all going through such a tough time. I love you!