Surfing Tsunamis: How Writers Can Cast an Affirming Flame by Michael Larsen

How Writers Can Cast an Affirming Flame“In all very numerous assemblies passion never fails to wrest the scepter from reason.” – James Madison

In Thank You for Being Late, Thomas Friedman wrote that we’re trapped in three giant accelerations we can’t understand, control, or adjust to: technology, globalization, and climate change. The election showed the conflict between those skimming the crests of these tsunamis and those drowning in the undertow.

Unstoppable Love

“Nothing bad can happen to a writer. Everything is material.” -Philip Roth

The challenges the country, the human family, and the planet face are your opportunities. Now is the best time to be a writer. You can help us create a just, sustainable, fulfilling future. There are more subjects for you to write about and more ways to write and publish books than ever. But publishing is now the communication business.

For Friedman, globalization includes the digital flow of information that enables you to reach more readers in more ways and places faster than ever for free. Communicate with your readers with your books and by engaging them, online and off, and you will build a community of fans who know, like, and trust you, and buy your work.

Whether you write fiction, nonfiction, or poetry for any age, the need for your vision, understanding, inspiration, and guidance grows more urgent every day. Social media makes readers your most powerful marketers, so content is king. Books readers love are unstoppable, and the right books will change the world.

Dynamic Stability

“Everything is possible and almost nothing is certain.” -Author and statesman Vaclav Havel

Thriving on uncertainty requires what Friedman calls the “dynamic stability” of riding a bike. As a writer, you have to keep peddling to balance

  • Creating and communicating
  • Writing and running a business
  • Short- and long-term personal, literary and publishing goals
  • Your time online and off
  • Your personal and professional life
  • What you owe others and yourself
  • Desire and necessity
  • Change and stability
  • The past and the future
  • Other voices and your instincts and common sense

W. H. Auden’s timely, powerful poem, “September 1, 1939,” which could have been written the day after the election, includes the line: “We must love one another or die.” The poem ends with Auden’s affirmation of “showing an affirming flame.”

Now is the most amazing time ever to live. The invisibility cloak, robots in the body dispensing medicine, and the end of ageing are in the works. Six billion cellphones are the big bang of a new era of communication, collaboration, creativity, commerce, community, and a competition that drives quality, choice, and innovation. If we can conceive it, we will achieve it. As Napoleon said: “Humanity is only limited by its imagination.” Meanwhile, may your flame illuminate darkness, and if you need a soundtrack for surfing the tsunamis, try the Beach Boys.

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