Passage Perilous: Writing in Chaotic Times

J. Dianne Dotson
3 min readMar 7, 2022


Within the span of two years, the world collectively has endured a life-altering, historic pandemic, and now stares down a war in Europe. It’s not 1918 all over again, but it is, quite frankly, a lot. Living through history and watching others suffer, or enduring that suffering yourself, is exhausting. Maybe the last thing you feel like doing is writing. But now is the right moment to put words on the page.

I Don’t Feel Like Making Things

For my part, I’ve felt like a dark cloud has once again descended over life, and it shadows everything I try to do. A sense of crawling dread invades every moment as if waiting in ambush to strike. Every plan I’ve made seems untenable, or worse, ridiculous.

There’s a long list of projects in writing and art that I had faced with gusto at the start of 2022, having endured a fair amount of stress and dealt with it. And here we are again, teetering on a tightrope in history, unsure how to navigate safely across. Certainly, it doesn’t foster creativity.

We Need Stories, Songs, and Art

Why make things when the world is falling apart? Especially if we don’t feel like it, or feel as though it would do any good, or make any difference.

The answer is, we’re human, and humans’ first technologies were arts and crafts. These are our most enduring cultural legacies, and when everything else unravels, we still carry the potential to make these things. I posit that we would not have made it this far as a species without them.

Guilt Isn’t Helpful

If you find your thoughts sliding the slippery slope into guilt for making things right now, stop. It’s not helping anyone for you to feel that way.

And think of it this way: “make hay while the sun shines,” as the old saying goes. If you can make, or write, or cook something right now, do so.

History Lessons

Here’s an exercise for you, if you just really feel stuck in the quicksand of world events. Start writing about your day. Write anything. Write about what you ate, what you saw outside your window, what you listened to, what you wore, what you smelled. Write it down, and date it.

We’re living through history, always. Future generations want to know how past generations lived. That’s everyday stuff. Put it on the page or the canvas.

Make Your Way Out

A collective goal of making, rather than destroying, is the antithesis of war and suffering. We have the power, and it is a luminous and positive power, to build, create, and make, even when world events seem only to be founded on disarray.

Your craft matters. Foster it. Make your way out of your rut, letter by letter, canvas by canvas, song by song. That is how we will survive.



J. Dianne Dotson

J. Dianne Dotson is a science fiction/fantasy/horror author, science writer, and artist. Repped by Laura Bennett. Visit @jdiannedotson