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I’m seeing more and more and more writers (they guest-post on Mr. Wendig’s blog at terribleminds.com, which I read) wondering how they can write “while the world burns”. And I’m glad they’re noticing, I really am, you have no idea.

But damn did it take you guys a long time and it being on your doorstep to notice.

I’m sure it’s nice to express your frustration and nice to feel like someone else feels that way and maybe get a bit of backslapping for your “oh god everything is shit” moment.

But too much of this and it’ll just be a circle-jerk. Nobody will do anything, they’ll all be too busy talking about how they have to do something.

If the world is burning then get a fire extinguisher.

If there’s genocide in Rwanda or torture in Russia then write a lot of politely worded very pointed letters to every diplomat you and Amnesty International can think of. (I was six. I was six and the world wasn’t as nice as it should have been, so I repeatedly told it to get better. It might even have helped.)

But waiting until there’s something less bad than genocide on your doorstep and then realising that maybe the world isn’t all sunshine and roses and then wanting to know how to go on alongside that?

You guys always were going on alongside it. You were (probably) there for the genocide. (I don’t know how old you are, but not being would make you pretty young.) But because you didn’t have a front row seat, it didn’t exist. You were there for the clusterfuck that was the invasion of Iraq. You were there for all the other atrocities that happened throughout my life, and that are still happening. People died every day, and still do, but the world wasn’t “burning” because you, personally, thought you were safe.

So I guess it just strikes me as a little self-centred. Which people are, and to an extent have to be, or we’d all forget to eat because we were doing more important things, and would starve. *Insert clip from Look Around You here.*

In fact, that’s about the right phrase. Look Around You. It’s always been this way.

It just wasn’t on your doorstep before.

So please, clear up your doorstep, and then whatever you do do not close your eyes and go back to thinking everything is okay. It’s not okay, it’s never been okay, things only get better if we work at it, if we stay aware of where the bad things are and then do something about them.

And yes, write books too. That’s important. Very important. Other minds and other viewpoints — if people don’t see those, the seeds are sown already.

Writers (of any stripe – book, film, comic, serial, you name it) share thoughts and ideas and strange new perspectives with the world. They make other people laugh and cry and think. Think things they never would have thought otherwise.

Now, as always, we need those ideas.

But don’t go complaining about how the world is worse and suddenly you can’t. It’s not worse, you just weren’t looking before. The rock is lifted. There’s a maggoty badger corpse down there, grinning at you with its half-decayed flesh hanging off the skull. But it was still there before, so… clear up the corpse, or write anyway, or clear it up and write anyway. (That’s what I do.)

Just don’t you dare claim it never existed before.

(But I am very, very glad that you’ve finally noticed it. Now pass me that shovel, because I think the tail’s fallen off.)

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