There will always be rocks in the road ahead of us. They will be stumbling blocks or stepping stones; it all depends on how you use them. —Friedrich Nietzsche
If history is mankind’s silver bullet for apocalyptic anxiety, and I believe it is, then writing and reading are most certainly its best delivery methods. It seems as if the exercise provided for our minds when we compose literature or engage with it in a book helps to bring us out of a gray world of loss to a light of possibility. Nietzsche’s idea of Eternal Recurrence is not new to us, and most of us would agree that while our mistakes are clearly repeated, so too our triumphs are just as obviously recurring. Friedrich Nietzsche’s creation of the historical test of one’s attitude toward life, the proposal to live fully, taking all of the bad along with the good is exactly what one must do when exploring lives in worlds that came before. And that’s why writing and reading stories of our history can give us the map to lead us out of despair when we’re lost.
Writing is not a lonely endeavor. It absorbs the author’s attention so fully that there’s no room for any other engagement for hours on end, but one can exercise mental muscles fully any place and with any character. The time and emotional travel are spectacular and use up none of our planet’s precious resources. But on top of those physical benefits come the psychic ones of a considerate reflection of what has come before in order to help our appreciation for our own resilience. Historical fiction has been my own Silver Bullet for hope, and accepting that the Lone Ranger isn’t going to come to save us with his, I suggest we take our emotional health in hand by simply reading more about our human past to lift up our present.
My new book, Tried As Silver, will be out for great summer reading soon on sale at Amazon. It’s an ideal anxiety reducer, and I hope reading it gives you as much optimism for the future as writing it gave me. If you’re curious about where the title for my Silver Bullet came from, have a look in Sir George Grove’s A Dictionary of Music and Musicians (1877-1889).