Should You Write that Pandemic Story?

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Photo by Trent Erwin on Unsplash

Several years ago I wrote and published a collection of three novellas entitled The Silent Years. It was my one and only venture into the world of zombie fiction, but was more dark SF than true horror (I don’t do gore).

I’ve had mixed feelings about promoting this work during the pandemic. Fact is, I personally can’t read plague fiction right now. The last time I tried it gave me an anxiety attack.

So, if you’re working on a pandemic story, should you set it aside? Here’s my thoughts on the matter:

Some People Are Reading Pandemic Stories

Believe it or not, some people want this kind of fiction right now. I may not understand it at the emotional level, but academically it’s about catharsis. If you can find your audience you may actually be helping people deal with this.

Don’t believe me? Steven Soderbergh’s 2011 thriller “Contagion” soared in download numbers in early to mid March.

The other thing people are likely to want is stories about pandemics being beaten. Reminders that we have beaten them in the past.

In other words, your pestilence story might actually represent hope to some readers.

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Photo by MILKOVÍ on Unsplash

You Can Always Save It For Later

There’s nothing wrong with writing a story and then setting it aside and publishing it a few years later. Nothing at all. (Especially if you are one of those people who does have extra time to write right now).

If your muse is insisting on writing it, write it, then worry about what to do with it later. (It also may well be that your subconscious is trying to cope with this by writing about it, which gives you a sense of control over the situation).

So, maybe the answer is to write it, but save it for a brighter day.

Would Writing it Make You Feel Worse?

I think the ultimate question to ask yourself is: Will writing this fiction, right now, make you feel better or worse. No matter how much we might think about marketing and advertising and writing to market, our first audience is ultimately ourselves.

If continuing with the idea would cause you to dwell on things and make you sad, then perhaps you should shelve it. (But don’t delete it!).

If it makes you feel better, then keep going.

So the answer to whether you should write a plague or pandemic story right now is — it depends. On how it would make you feel and whether you have friends who need it.

Written by

Freelance writer, freelance editor, novelist and short story writer. Jack of many trades.

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