Happy New Year, Readers Everywhere!
Or perhaps it is almost Happy New Year for some of you. Hard to tell how long it will take this blog will reach anyone. Mail isn’t what it used to be, even if it’s online. Deliveries are suspect in terms of time and place, and sometimes it feels to me as if the whole world was upended while I was asleep. So much change, so little the same from one day to the next, such shifts and twists and turns that each day the prevailing urge is to read right away the constantly new influx of social media information to find out what in the name of sanity is going to happen next.
Not a good idea, though. Not for those of us who write to create a form of reality that to us measures best the truth about the larger world. Fiction is so often reality as writers envision it – either as we see it now or as we see it coming. But at least it presents truth as a cohesive whole described and explained in story in the same way it has been since Humans first had the urge to relate to others how they believed things to be.
We struggle with this, all of us. We are deluged with the thoughts of others in the morass of today’s social media, and we feel as if the intent of the information is more obfuscating than it is informative. I find myself less and less willing to listen to most of it and more and more anxious to just shove it out of my head and into a depthless void.
Time is a trickster.
It uses our lives to expose us to a larger world and its various happenings – sometimes through stories and sometimes through actual experience. It teases us with tales that cause both joy and pain. It twists and turns the real into something that could in part be true but mostly is not. How do we know which is which? We have this feeling we should be able to tell, but I find that more often than not I am unable to. So much of what we encounter feels surreal. So much defies reality and any reasonable sense of truth. So often I feel as if I am decidedly being played with and deliberately being manipulated.
When I was growing up, my father frequently lamented the passing of time. Things were better and more sensible back when, he would say. I always thought he was prejudiced and tight-minded. But at least now I understand where he was coming from and why time does this to us.
So here in 2022 – or thereabouts – I resolve to be accepting of the world as I know it to be and while not able to dismiss the harshness of its sharper edges I can at least do something to make it more bearable. I can be for myself and those who know me a reasonable person. I can embrace wholly the beliefs and ways of the world that are already proven and make sense to me. Truths sometimes reveal themselves through the trickster’s subtle way, but they seldom change from what we have pretty much always known. We spend our lives learning about the world. It is revealed in snippets and tags, and we have to pay attention. But there are ways to make this happen for all of us. We just have to engage with them and take time to think things through.
Books have always done that for me. When I read a book, it is a sort of adventure, but it is also a lesson. I am frequently being told something that is new or perhaps I only suspected, but what matters most is how deeply I feel it inside and can put into words of logic the reasons I do so. Not all of it is good; some is very bad. But we were given life to think and reason, and we should make that our primary goal. Life is hard, but life is also revealing. Stories entertain, but they also teach. To varying degrees, the ideas revealed in the writings of others are what give us insights. We should embrace them with passion.
My obligation in life is to be a decent person. Help others, be kind, be generous, be understanding, be truthful, be someone who is willing to at least listen to what others have to say – even when what we are being told is difficult to believe. Not enough of us are doing this. Not enough of us are trying to meet the other person halfway. Not enough of us are being willing to consider that some of what we want to reject is valid and true.
Time is a trickster and the world changes.
But we are capable of withstanding the worst of it and embracing the best. In 2022, that will be my goal for what time remains to me as a writer. I hope you can make some part of it your goal too. I encourage you to sort through what you are being asked. I urge you to use common sense and reliable advice.
Finally – because I should say something about my writing, too – the work continues. A sequel to Child of Light will be out later in 2022. A third is planned. In addition, I am determined to finish a book about God-like creatures, deadly mountains and difficult imps sometime soon. And more is coming. Just need the time and energy.
I wish you love and peace and a path forward. Good things lie ahead. We just have to remember how to recognize them when they appear. Sometimes they are in disguise.
Terry Brooks, December 2021, looking ahead.