The importance of stories

Hello from a very swift and sudden 4-day lockdown in Perth, following the discovery of a community-transmitted case of the COVID-19 delta variant in our city. Our State Gov doesn’t muck about. They picked up on the case, made the call, and let us all know via a press conference last night.

It’s been interesting observing the news and people’s reactions to things like this. There’s so much distrust and worry, not just around this situation, but built up from situations in the past, and compounded with fears around other things that are wrong—things that may continue to go wrong because it looks like no one’s doing anything about it. There’s a Here & Now side of me looking to find manageable, sustainable actions that I can contribute towards making a difference. There’s also a Helpless Observer side of me who deals with these things by taking notes and writing stories about situations turning out okay.

Stories are so important, I’m realising, and writing scifi and romance fiction at a time like this no longer feels like a frivolous pursuit—I mean, it could be, but it doesn’t have to be.

Map of the Whadjuk Boodja south-western Aboriginal country in Western Australia. Taken at WA Museum Boola Bardip, 2021.
Map of the Whadjuk Boodja south-western Aboriginal country in Western Australia. Taken at WA Museum Boola Bardip, 2021.

One thing that followed me home after visiting Boola Bardip was an idea of the important role stories play in capturing history on the ground. Facts and figures are useful, but they’re not infallible. They can be diluted, reinterpreted, misrepresented, and misapplied, particularly if they’re cold, hard and dry. They are not the immutable trustable truths we’d like to believe they are. Perhaps if we were machines, they might be. But we’re human. And we can’t help but wield cold data the way humans will—for our own purposes. In a way, facts are stories too, but of a different kind.

Stories, and the emotional messages they carry, help us relate to actual experiences of those facts. Writing fiction, therefore, seems like a radical act of preserving history, encoding elements of the zeitgeist between threads of fantasy and fancy in world-building, plot events, character development.

At least, that’s what I’m telling myself on Day 1 of this lockdown, as I pace between my study and fridge, shop for more flat-nose-friendly face masks, and procrastinating on my novel WIP.

About Henry: A Novella drops on Friday. Preorder it now to have it delivered to your Kindle. Or grab a review copy while they’re still available. (Whoever I one day hire to review my sales & marketing will probably yell at me for this exact thing I’m doing here 😅)

Australia’s lockdown began today

So much can change in just a week. Australia’s “lockdown” began today. We’re at “Stage 1” and I don’t know if our government defines the stages the same way other countries do, but if Italy and France are anything to go by, it’s probably going to get worse before it gets better. Let’s just hope “worse” means “strictly sensible” and not “utterly dire”. Our household is adapting swiftly, sans panic buying.

We’ve adjusted our social habits—a straightforward and painless process for a pair of introverted digital natives. Making up for the lack of meatspace contact, we’re reaching out to our friends more. Random hellos, how are yous, memes, banter. So far, so good.

Last week, we looked at our work circumstances and finances. This week, we’re switching over to socially distant online PT sessions and cutting back our supermarket visits.

I’ve had to pull out of the Perfectly Published Perth event, which has been postponed to next year. It would have been nice to meet readers and other authors around my city, but given the current uncertainties and the commitments I’m still anticipating, I didn’t feel right about locking in something so far ahead.

Writing is happening, albeit slowly. About Her may go live later than expected. I’m okay with this and hope you are too. Though I’m not mega stressed about everything going on, it’s been hard to focus lately. I’m managing to do like, 1-2 things per day. I’m sure it’s the same everywhere. I don’t want time anxiety while working on this WIP. And I don’t want my editor to have so much time anxiety when looking over my WIP. So yeah, nice and slow we go.

Currently staying sane with Terraria, Avorion and 15-mins of sunlight each day ⛏🚀🌞