Should we be writing about the pandemic? Now?

A few nights ago I attended a virtual reading at Neo-Noir at the Bar. Got to hear a number of exciting authors, among them Kellye Garrett, Lori Rader-Day and Ivy Pochoda. At one point, Pochoda mentioned that her new work was set during the pandemic. She’d gone to a panel where a number of writers were saying that they didn’t intend to write about the pandemic, and as soon as she heard them she thought, then I will. (She also read the opening pages of her new work, which started with someone looking at a tree, so you can imagine that I was on-board immediately.)

Image by Alexandra_Koch from Pixabay

She did get me thinking, however, about whether I intend to write about the pandemic. I’ve not been tempted, though not because I don’t find the subject intriguing.

It’s the timing I can’t figure out. I’ve written a bit about 9/11, but years after the event. My concern is that I’ll be overtaken by events. By the time a book comes out, it will probably be in 2023. By then we might have forgotten all about it. Or we might be fighting off something worse.

Coincidentally, I’ve been reading Alone in Berlin, which was written by the German author Hans Fallada, who lived in Germany throughout World War II. He had the opportunity to leave, but felt his job as a writer required him to be a witness. The experience took a terrible toll on him, and he died in 1947, not long after the book was published. It’s a tremendously claustrophobic and terrifying book, and it’s given me a new understanding of what it would have been like to live under a Fascist totalitarian government. I don’t think he could have written it had he not lived it.

And then, on the other side of the spectrum, I ran across this post on Twitter. Also a valid point.

I suspect the pandemic will weave its way into my writing somehow. A character will appear who will have struggled through it. Possibly Governor Cuomo will appear. What about you? Do you plan to write about the pandemic? Do you want to read about it?

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