Writer’s Block. We are warned that we all get it, that the solution is to, well, write. Put the words on the page, even if it feels like a slog. The advice often sounds as if writer’s block is like “the wall” in a marathon. By mile ten, most people have used their circulating blood sugar and have to dig into reserves in the liver. By mile twenty, “the wall,” the liver’s depleted, and we get into the ineffable, gauzy advice about reaching deeply into one’s self for the last 6.2 miles.
All of which makes sense for marathons. At least for the ones I did. I mention this because I came to a halt, a standstill, in my novel #5, which I’m calling Cyberstorm. I tried the forging ahead thing, and it didn’t work. It took me a while to realize that I needed to understand my characters and my plot ideas better than I did. Once I settled on some details I’d overlooked, the words began to flow again.
First, a thank you to readers. A couple of months ago, I asked you to help me out with my vision of what the world would look like ten years from now. A group of intrepid souls realized that my request to answer the blog post in the comment box wasn’t working (my WordPress skills are apparently lacking), and I got a wealth of commentary from them anyway. The most regular critique of my initial vision came in the form: “Your 2026 looks a lot like today. Surely much more will have happened by then.” That gave me pause. Leaving out geopolitics, which I didn’t have the temerity to predict (except to assume CyberWar I will happen in a few years, which I take to be obvious), things did move pretty much at current pace. I hadn’t fleshed out that assumption with deep analysis; after all, I’m writing fiction. But really, look back at 2006. More apps, yes; otherwise, not so different.
About a week ago, the economist Paul Krugman reviewed THE RISE AND FALL OF AMERICAN GROWTH, by Robert J. Gordon, in the New York Times. Krugman, reflecting on Gordon’s thesis, says “The truth is that if you step back from the headlines about the latest gadget, it becomes obvious that we’ve made much less progress since 1970 — and experienced much less alteration in the fundamentals of life — than almost anyone expected.” He notes that between 1870 and 1940, “Electric lights replaced candles and whale oil, flush toilets replaced outhouses, cars and electric trains replaced horses.” But today, “you or I could walk into a 1940s apartment, with its indoor plumbing, gas range, electric lights, refrigerator and telephone, and we’d find it basically functional. We’d be annoyed at the lack of television and Internet — but not horrified or disgusted.” (Tell that to one of the chilly dudes waiting in line outside the Apple store for the latest iPhone. Wait … have our lives become trivial, or is the insatiable quest for life improvement focusing on that which is available?)
Anyway, I feel more comfortable with a world in which I don’t have to spend too many words explaining exotic, transformative technology. Thanks again for your additions and corrections.