As a speculative writer, I often muse about how the future is now. Especially this year, when 2015 is the “fantastic future” of the Back to the Future franchise. I’m sure you guys in the US have been deluged with the hits and misses of that speculative future, but I was enchanted by NPR’s segment on the phenomenon of looking back at a story that looks forward and back again. Who knew that the future was going to turn out like this?
I think there are a lot of lessons to be drawn from thinking about the nature of time, history and prediction. Perhaps the most comforting one is that if you write in the future, you can write what you like. As long as it’s good, people won’t care if you are wrong, and if you happen to be right, they’ll be amazed and delighted. 1984 weathered 1984, and I’m sure Back to the Future 2 will not suffer after 2015.
If you are writing a contemporary, write it now, and get it down. The world changes so quickly, and sometimes the real world could completely undo your world. We had some close calls in 2014 – the Scots could have voted for independence in September, and then what would have happened to all our men in kilts? Probably nothing more than some tedious revision. I think 2015 is going to be a good year for North Korean, Cuban and Russian thrillers. Wartime romance (unfortunately) still has many settings that can complicate and twist your plot.
If you are writing a historical, you may think you are safe – and indeed, you are buffered from a lot of twists and turns of time. But those researchers keep researching, and you may find that what we know about your period is a little different from what we used to know about your period. At the end of 2013, who would have thought that Richard III would be found buried under a parking lot? Or that Stonehenge wasn’t just a stand-alone monument dominating the landscape, but part of a rather large complex?
The future (and the present and the past . . . ) are so uncertain that it’s important to just do it now. Who knows what tomorrow will bring? But, don’t be paralyzed by the possibility of change, either. I can issue you an artistic license, if you need to fudge some of the facts. The important thing is to keep progressing.
Whatever you write, it’s a good time to be writing. May your 2015 be full of the right words, and a grand sense of wonder!