Writing in the midst of the Trump crisis

One week of the Trump Administration and I feel as though I’m drinking from a fire hose. I’m fairly certain the experience will soon seem more like waterboarding. Not surprisingly, 1984 by George Orwell has already climbed back up into the bestsellers’ lists. How should writers respond? Write faster?

On one hand, I’m itching to fight the power, and I notice my prose has grown more vigorous, too. Pages are pouring out whenever I can pull myself away from the news. On the other hand, I’m trying to listen to those who don’t think as I do, and the more I do, the more apparent it is that the crack separating my vision of reality from theirs runs very, very deep. It frightens me and saps my energy. I have never worried over the unity of this country as I have in the last year.

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On the political end of the equation, here’s what’s happened. Every day, I send one email of protest to the White House, but Trump is not the only problem, and I do believe we have to be active locally as well as on the national front. Two days ago I wrote to all my local council members and the county executive about the executive’s wrongheaded veto of a bill to increase minimum wage to $15 per hour. Yesterday, I wrote my members of Congress and the Speaker of the House about this horrendous Muslim ban. Today I wrote my governor about his poor decision to veto a bill expanding state benchmarks for renewable energy because we all know that the only hope for action on climate change rests with state governments now. Ahead, I’ve already committed to writing members of Congress about Trump’s treatment of the press, the Dakota Pipeline and the necessity of ridding the White House of Steve Bannon. And don’t even ask me how many marches and protests I’ve been invited to.

This looks like a spray of birdshot aimed at a field of wolves. Or, more grandly, maybe I’m like Faramir in the retreat from the Pelennor Fields. Pick your favorite doomed defense. And, yes, I know I’m being played. This is good political strategy on the Trumpets’ part. Hit them with everything, and they won’t be able to unite or defend anything.

All I know is that I must continue writing or the well will run dry. Here’s what I’m doing to try to stay productive as a writer.

  • Hold writing time sacrosanct. I write for two hours before I look at the news or get on social media. Then I write for two more hours after I stop screaming at the news or social media.
  • Write all clever comebacks down in a log for future characters to use. While I do post on political topics, I try to not respond to any of the madness and never bully others. To do so solves no problems but saps up time and energy and makes unnecessary enemies when the only enemies worth my time are in the White House (and Congress, and the state house).
  • Read widely. One should always know what the opposition is thinking, and what evidence they use. Their regular arguments on any topic can teach one how to write dialogue for characters of different political persuasions.
  • Never march or participate in protests past bedtime more than once a week. A writer needs her sleep in order to think and write well the next day.

What are you doing? How are you keeping your balance in the age of Trump?

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