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Letters from the President

inSinC is the quarterly journal that Sisters in Crime publishes for our members.

 

From Lori Rader-Day, June 2020

How quickly things change. 

In my last letter to you, I encouraged you to find the line between saying YES and saying NO and now? Now we’ve all had to tell ourselves no — to nearly everything. 

Writing this letter is basically time travel; I’m writing to you from my self- quarantine, day 41 inside my house, and I’m hoping that by the time it reaches you in June, some of the horror of our shared experience will be over. I don’t know, though. I can only hope. 

I’ve been having trouble writing. Maybe you have, too. Recently I had a Zoom happy hour (remember not so long ago when that string of syllables wouldn’t have made any sense?). While talking to other Chicagoland writers about the effects of all this on our lives and careers, one of them asked, basically, in the face of so much uncertainty, was there anything we should be doing now to be ready for the moment when things return to normal? 

(I’ll tell you my answer to her in a second.) 

I don’t want to ruin anyone’s newsletter, but we are probably not going to see “normal,” as we knew it, anytime soon. Some of us might have to live with a new normal in our lives and in our publishing careers. It’s a scary time to be a human, so it’s of course also a scary time to be a writer. Can you do a million Zoom calls and redesign your website and write up a new marketing plan for the next seven years? (All while you’re home schooling your kid?) Sure, those are all things you can do. But it’s also OK to remember that the world isn’t really on pause. It’s churning and changing, and when we can see each other again, all our plans might need to be changed, too. 

Your time might be better spent with those you are quarantined with, and on video chats with loved ones quarantined elsewhere. Reading, if you can. Writing, if you can. Taking care of those around you, if you can. Taking care of yourself, whatever that looks like. Write a letter. Buy a book from your local indie. Watch those cat videos. Get out the puzzles. Watch The Great British Baking Show all over again. (That last one is me.) 

What I’m saying is that you shouldn’t feel the pressure to UP YOUR GAME at the same time you are dealing with a universal disaster. 

Now, to that answer I promised you. What can we do as authors to be ready for when the doors of the world reopen?

You know the answer: Write the best work you can. If you can write. (Write something terrible if that’s all you can manage.) Use the complex feelings you have about this situation to give depth to your characters. Change up your sub- genre and try something new. Write for the joy of writing, if you can catch it. Write for the unburdening of grief, if you can’t. Write your anger into something visceral that is medicine only for yourself. Write. It is the only thing; it is always the only thing, because it is the only piece of this existence we can control with any certainty. 

And also: Keep close to your Siblings right now. We joined this group to find the like-minded weirdos just like us, and now we have them. If we rely on each other, we’ll have something else of which to be certain. Those are good bones. I can only hope we can rebuild the rest. 

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