Filling the Well

art in the age of chaos


I’ve been feeling guilty. Many, many writers and artists on social media have been talking about how the current political situation, the fear and uncertainty, has made it difficult to work. Editors and agents are talking about how, across the board, the artists they know are missing deadlines and freezing up. It’s hard to make art when your brain is locked in panic mode.

This hasn’t happened to me. Rather, art has been my refuge. I flee to my work.  It’s the only thing I really have control over right now. I’m fortunate and grateful to have work and deadlines. My work has been a comfort, these last several months. So now I feel lucky twice over, that my art hasn’t left me.

Working on the sequel to Bannerless has been strange in some regards. First, I had more time to work on that than just about any book I’ve written over the last decade. (A whole year between deadlines, what?!) But while writing it, I watched it become more relevant in real time. Bannerless is a more subversive, relevant novel than it was when I wrote it a year ago. In it, I posit a cascading failure for civilization. As more and more infrastructure and support gets knocked out, disasters like storms and epidemics become more difficult to recover from, until recovery is impossible. (For example, imagine Hurricane Harvey happening in conjunction with an epidemic on par with the Spanish flu of 1918. If you’re able to help with storm recovery, please do: here are some links to get you started.) And now we have an administration that has proposed cutting, if not eliminating, so many of the support structures that are specifically designed to help our society survive and recover from disasters.

Bannerless depicts a society where economic strength is measured by whether or not everyone is healthy and taken care of, not by how much profit is accumulated. I’m writing this while facing an administration that is giving the Ferengi a run for their money in terms of sheer, amoral acquisitiveness.

I was aware of Bannerless #2’s relevancy in a way I wasn’t with the first book. And this gave me incentive. Art is relevant. Art is important. Like so many others, I feel so helpless in the face of forces that seem determined to destroy things that are important to me. But I can still write.