This week, I’ve been working my way from fiction to fact in this exploration of how a writer should write in the 100 days leading up to the 2020 election. Having covered fictional, false and dishonest writing, today we cross safely in to the true end of the spectrum, or at least the end that aspires toward truth. Truth-ier.
Nonfiction concerns the real world, the series of historical events that you and me and almost everyone we’ve ever met can agree took place: dinosaurs roamed the earth; 230 million years later, humans in Mesopotamia built giant ziggurats; a short 4,000 years later after that, Patti Smith left Philadelphia on a bus for New York with little more to her name than a copy of Arthur Rimbaud’s Illuminations.
For the first two, we have generations of research from archeologists, anthropologists and other scientists. For the third, we have only Patti Smith’s word in her beautiful memoir Just Kids.
Likewise, these posts are closer to memoir than science writing. I’ve told stories of relationships, jobs, friends, and old art projects that coincided with — or were tied to — elections gone by. I’m doing my best to stick to facts as I remember them. But just as in yesterday’s post about spin, there are bound to be omissions and carefully crafted truths. I hope they are in service of narrative rather than misdirection or half-truth.
The alternative is to recap news from the campaign trail, analyze the positions of the candidates, and discuss the latest opinion polls. But nobody needs more of that. Certianly not from me.
Instead, I’m beginning to realize the subject all of this is about is anxiety. Anxiety about the election, the pandemic, and the future. My anxiety. Everyone else’s anxiety. As well as how to do something productive with it in the 100 — now 86 days — remaining before the election.