This is happiness: to be dissolved into something great.
–author Rebecca West
It’s been said that opinions are stronger than armies. More than ever, our future depends on people’s opinions, and it’s easier to influence people’s opinions and communicate with them than ever. Your ability to provide vision, understanding, guidance, inspiration, and entertainment gives you access to people’s minds and hearts. Whether you write long or short, for adults or children, prose, poetry, or scripts, you can make a difference.
How can you help answer the great questions that arise from the following statements?
1. What people want is enough to satisfy their needs and desires. How can your writing help us decide what enough is?
2. The present is full of conflict, complexity, and pleas for our help, while accelerating change makes the future impossible to predict. How can your writing help us lead authentic, harmonious lives?
3. Power, whether it’s social, military, financial, corporate, spiritural, political, physical, institutional, technological, or hierarchical corrupts. How can your writing help give people and organizations the power they need but prevent them from abusing it?
4. Institutions become part of the problem they exist to solve. How can your writing help organizations to renew and reinvent themselves?
5. Poverty, unjustified suffering, climate change, and resource depletion are intolerable in the global village that is home to the human family. How can your writing help create the means and the will to solve these tragedies?
6. The more needed or valuable the stakes, the easier it is to forsake principle for profit. How can your writing help make both equally important?
7. Politics and religion lend themselves to extreme, unyielding beliefs, based on family, personality, education, history, and culture. How can your writing help bring reason and justice to the world?
8. The players change but the competition for power, control, profit, influence, and resources endures. How can your writing help establish a satisfactory balance of conflicting interests that prevents the waste of resources and the use of force?
The answers to these questions that writers provide will help determine our future. The forces of war, anger, greed, control, consolidation, competition, development, globalization, and the relentless development of technology make finding answers urgent.
We can’t know when a mistake or provocation will set off a catastrophe. We can’t predict when pollution, rising sea levels, or changes in weather will reach a tipping point.
The lack of inspiring leadership, when the planet most needs it, has given you the chance to write out of what is best in you to what is best in all of us. As we free fall toward a fate we can’t predict or control, writers may be the largest, most powerful independent worldwide force for change.
What greater opportunity could you ask for than using your gifts to write about something great? Is there a New Year’s resolution you would like to make?
The Eighth San Francisco Writers Conference / A Celebration of Craft, Commerce & Community / President’s Day Weekend, February 18-20, 2011 / Mark Hopkins InterContinental Hotel on Nob Hill / Keynoters: Dorothy Allison & David Morrell / Pitch your book to agents and editors from both coasts / More than 50 breakout sessions / 100 presenters / www.sfwriters.org / firstname.lastname@example.org / blog: http://sfwriters.org/blog / free MP3s at www.sfwriters.info / open to anyone: a day of in-depth classes on Monday, February 21st
New! San Francisco Writers University: Where Writers Meet and You Learn, a project of the San Francisco Writers Conference / Laurie McLean, Dean / www.sfwritersu.com