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    Creativity During Chaos

    By Michele Karlsberg–

    Michele Karlsberg: Best-sellingauthor Karin Kallmaker is featured in this issue of the San Francisco Bay Times. During this time of chaos, Karin writes about real life crises and creative setbacks. Please enjoy her piece “Giving Up the Privilege of Disbelief to Find Creativity Again.”

    Some people thrive on chaos. For me, the chaos of pandemic and the daily news has been a creativity killer. My specialty is world-building happy places where two women become the heroes of their own lives. But the world under my feet is unstable, and too many of the people in it are making it worse.

    On top of that, as author Lara Hayes wrote recently, when trying to lift up voices of resistance and protest, it’s hard to get into the head space of creating our stories, let alone promoting them. Cue the chorus of inner doubt and imposter syndrome. Their lyrics are the usual—”You have nothing new to say; give it up; there are more important things to do; nobody will read it”—call and answer fugue, all through a pandemic megaphone.

    One of the obvious responses to the voices, and the uncertainty, is to look for what hasn’t changed that I can rely on. The goodness of people, which I see in every mask. The leaders who might be flawed but genuinely want to help people survive and thrive. The selflessness of medical professionals. This approach works on days when the news isn’t dire.

    This is not that day, week, or year. After five months of almost never leaving the house, and seeing over and over the failures of things I took for granted (a competent disaster response, for example), I’ve had to conquer my own disbelief that any of this could happen here, in the country I love. Disbelief was a privilege I had to discard if I wanted to rediscover my creative voice and energy.

    Though my own rights as a queer person were systemically withheld, and freedoms hard won by the spectrum of resistance—from riots to courtrooms—I still believed justice won in the end, though it sometimes took far too long. Now I accept that justice isn’t merely slow, it’s nonexistent for too many people.

    I believed science would save us from most of our folly—and I still do. But I now know there are people who don’t want it to, because their personal economy profits from disaster and death. Some people actively consider others disposable to their cause of making money.

    I still believe with all my heart that love is the universal story, and love can make miracles. That’s the story I write. Now more than ever, I know that love is not enough.

    Where does this leave me in the creative sense? I have given up disbelief—I accept that uncertainty and chaos are not “just for a while and then it’ll be normal again.” That was a paralyzing mantra. I’m discarding it in favor of believing my own eyes and accepting that there is a long haul ahead of all of us toward a new, unknown normal.

    With that choice, which seems so simple in retrospect, I’m finding creativity again. Which breeds joy, leads to words, and creates a book that I hope will find the reader who needs it.

    Karin Kallmaker (she/her) lives in the East Bay and has been writing award-winning romance for women who love women since 1980–mumble. She has a coffee problem and she’s not working on it.

    Michele Karlsberg Marketing and Management specializes in publicity for the LGBTQ+ community. This year, Karlsberg celebrates 32 years of successful book campaigns. For more information:

    Published on November 5, 2020