British historian and author Timothy Garten Ash remarked on Charlie Rose that we are living in the Age of Adaptation. Climate change is already happening, so the challenge is to adapt to the changes it creates.
In his poem, “September 1, 1939,” W.H. Auden wrote: “We must love one another or die.” Are the dying of frogs, bees, and coral reefs; the unexplainable beachings of whales; and a floating island of garbage in the Pacific larger than Manhattan like the canary in the coal mine, warnings that we must also love Gaia–and act out of that love while there’s time—or die?
- Climate change
- population growth
- the concentration of political, economic, and technological power
- and the rising demand for food, fuel, and water
are transforming the planet at an accelerating rate. I don’t know if we can solve the problems they pose, but it will the hardest thing the fractious human family has ever done, and time is running out. We are undermining the planet’s future, government can’t help enough, and since we’ve never been in this situation, we have no idea when we’ll reach the tipping point at which the dangers we face will be irreversible.
Appreciating their gravity and urgency can be hard, because our perspective is limited. It’s like being in a plane. The landscape drifts by very slowly at 35 thousand feet, but the closer you are to the ground, the faster land whizzes by. The closer you are to these issues, the worse they appear.
What does this mean to writers? What do these problems and the affects of technology on writers have in common?
- Nobody’s in charge.
- Nobody can predict their combined affects or when we will confront them, so all we can do is manage the unavoidable and avoid the unmanageable.
- They create conflicts.
- They are man made.
- They are changing how we live and work.
Technology is creating new ways to communicate and make money from your writing. It’s enlarging the ways people buy and receive information and entertainment and forcing the publishing business to move beyond a 500-year-old technology.
The D Word
A one-word description of what technology has meant to media in the first decade of the century: downloading.
- Napster and illegal downloading made Tower Records disappear.
- Netflix, the Amazon of movies, helped drive Blockbuster into bankruptcy.
- Amazon’s success with Kindle sparked the next publishing revolution.
Business has to keep adapting as new technology forces it to evolve before it can establish a stable business model.
Surfing the Waves of Change
As a writer, you will benefit from the growing opportunities to make money and reach more readers, but the price is embracing change as an opportunity to
- adapt how you work
- build your communities of fans, the collaborators you need to benefit from new media, and techies to keep you informed and provide the help you need
- develop your creativity
- be clear about the literary and publishing goals that keep you motivated
The world’s needs offer limitless possibilities for all writers. Using what you create to convey your vision, wisdom, and passion for change can lead us to a better future. Is there a better way to use your talent at this most amazing time in history?
If you have ideas on how writers can stay on their boards while surfing the waves of change heading toward us, please let me know so I can learn how to do these things better and share your ideas.
Comments and questions welcome.
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