Writing Life: A Writer’s Role in the Apocalypse

Castle Romeo Thermonuclear Test 1954

Image borrowed from The Official CTBTO Photostream on Flickr.

Everyone seems to be on a zombie kick the last few years.  Pair that with the impending 2012 prophecy coming to (possible, but incredibly unlikely) fruition, and you’ve got some awesome apocalypse plans, stories, and quite the barrage of “THESKYISFALLING!” media.

Don’t get me wrong, I love it.  You’ve got Falling Skies, the cancelled-before-its-time  Jericho, and the coming-soon Revolution.  Not to mention the Resident Evil franchise, the Fallout series, and the list goes on.  Even The Hunger Games was a post-modern-society setting.  To say that we’re all a little disenchanted with the way things are, to the point where we have to destroy it and kill damn near everyone with our imaginations, might be a bit of an understatement.

And that brings me to today’s Writing Life topic: a writer’s role in the apocalypse.

I mean, let’s face it.  The more resourceful of us are going to survive, right?  We write this stuff.  We’ve thought up the worst case scenarios, killed off our favorite characters in our new vicious, unforgiving versions of the world.  With that small fact (we will survive this nonsense) established, it’s time to hash out just where we stand at the end of it all.

No electricity.  And where there is electricity, there will be evil street gangs or crime syndicates (ie: the US government or Gary Oldman) hoarding the generators.  Naturally, TV is no longer a staple in our daily lives.  You’ll no longer be able to schedule your week around True Blood or Extreme Couponing.  People will need the blissful escape that fiction provides.  As the years go on, books will be more useful as kindling (blasphemy, I know), and so oral tradition will probably pull itself back to the forefront of our culture.  We, as writers, are story-weavers.  We can give them the escape that they crave.

No more formal education.  We don’t know everything, that’s a fact.  But writers, on the whole, tend to be decently-read and researched people.  In our smaller communities, where teachers may no longer exist, it may fall to writers to keep the written language around for a bit longer.  In educating our hardened and deprived youth, we can keep that thread of creativity and imagination going, providing hope in a world where there isn’t any.

History is written by the winners.  But in the apocalypse, there are no winners.  (Unless they are aliens, and we don’t speak alien anyway, do we?  And I won’t learn!  Filthy, world-thieving bastards!  I’ll see your death ray and raise you an explosion on your comm tower!  Tic-Tic-Boom!)  It’ll fall, in part, to writers to keep track of things.  Victories.  Defeats.  Logs of changes, progress, failures, etc.  And if we aren’t the record keepers, we sure as hell are the ones who’ll tell those stories with some flare!

Hope.  It’s a fragile thing, and writers are some of the most emotionally resilient people I can think of.  We take rejection and defeat, and turn it into determination, progress, and an opportunity to learn.  We’ve read the greats before burning their pages for warmth!  We know the great battles of fiction and of history and we can offer our insight from a creative, non-military standpoint.  Most of all, of all of our educational and emotional exploits, we keep our heads up and keep looking forward.  Tomorrow is another day, and it can only be better than today.

So, remember, just because you’re a writer doesn’t mean you’d be useless when the world ends.  In fact, your role in the progression of mankind is critical.  

Do you know of any other ways that writers will be useful at the end of the world?  Share them!



Filed under Writing Life

4 responses to “Writing Life: A Writer’s Role in the Apocalypse

  1. And if we aren’t the record keepers, we sure as hell are the ones who’ll tell those stories with some flair!
    Seriously though, I ike this subject. I think one of my duties as a post-apocalyptic writer would be to take what’s left of scientific terminology and turn it all up on its head. Hypophyseal gonadotropin would be renamed “frog fluid” or something along those lines, for instance.

  2. Thank you for this! It always grates on me when my engineering/ hard science friends gang up and carry on about how us English Majors would be useless in the post-apocalyptic world :P

  3. Phil N. Schipper

    Hahahahaha. Never thought of it like this. This is all hilarious stuff.

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