Eric Douglas: Seeking to entertain, even during difficult times
I end up writing for a lot of different reasons. I write for a scuba magazine, I write this column, I write for clients and I write fiction. Sometimes I hope to inform, others I hope to entertain. Ideally, a little of both.
When the world outside is especially troubling, it’s hard to find my voice. I wonder if I should be writing fiction when the whole world is at odds and people are reeling from the latest tragedy in the news.
I wasn’t writing fiction yet, but I was working in the scuba diving industry on 9-11. I wondered if what I was doing was important in the face of that tragedy. After school shootings or other terrible events, I question myself; if what I’m doing is really where I should be. Inevitably, I remember that we all need to escape and be entertained, even in the face of horror.
I looked up books published in 1942 as America joined World War II. Some of the stories involved the war, but many didn’t. Agatha Christie published three mysteries, for instance. Science-fiction fans will be thrilled to know that Isaac Asimov introduced the Three Laws of Robotics in the short story “Runaround” published that year. Interestingly, Captain America, the comic book hero famous for punching Nazis, was released in December of 1940, a year into the war, but a full year before the attack on Pearl Harbor.
Last week’s column was about the importance of free speech, with the understanding that freedom of expression means you are free from government interference in that expression. The government can’t stop you from saying something, even if it is unpopular. I submitted that column before the events in Charlottesville, Virginia.
The awful events in Charlottesville would not have changed anything I wrote last week. I would have offered as an example that the original march, however distasteful, was given a permit by the city. At the same time, outing participants on social media is also a consequence of their actions.
Watching the violence in Charlottesville brought those same questions about writing to mind. How do I write fiction with bad guys bent on taking over the world when real evil exists in the world? I still don’t have an answer to that, although I would wager that many of my creative friends are looking for ways to express those feelings in their art.
In the meantime, I think I’ll go see if a Captain America movie is on Netflix for some inspiration.
Eric Douglas, of Pinch, is the author of “Return to Cayman,” “Heart of the Maya,” “Cayman Cowboys,” “River Town” and other novels. He is also a columnist for Scuba Diving Magazine and a former Charleston Newspapers Metro staff writer. For more information, visit www.booksbyeric.com or contact him at Eric@booksbyeric.com