Guest Post by author Carissa Turpin
Writing Through Unprecedented Times
I was born in 1985, cementing my classification as an elder Millennial. If you poke around the internet—particularly Tiktok—looking for stereotypes about Millennials, you’ll find lots of muttering about side parts, skinny jeans, and participation trophies. There’s one attribute, however, that is often overlooked: the influx of trauma Millennials dealt with in their formative years.
I watched the events of September 11th, 2001 unfold on a television cart in my Social Studies classroom. The years that followed introduced additional moments of fear on a national and global scale: anthrax scares, school shootings, wars and bomb strikes, recessions and the bursting of bubbles, a bleak economy and job market. For this reason, breaking news alerts with their intense music and stoic-faced anchors still send a peal of panic through me. I still get my news in short bursts as watching 24-hours news channels still brings back a suffocating, expectant feeling.
In March of 2020, the world received news of the COVID-19 virus. Businesses, schools, events, and life as we knew it quickly ground to a halt. I watched all the developments with fear, yes, but also with a selfish degree of exhaustion. I had already dealt with my share of unprecedented times—how would I survive yet another?
Stuck within my house for the unforeseen future, I looked for ways to distract myself. Ordering delivery and panic buying toilet paper and watching entire seasons of television worked for some time, but eventually even these activities felt stale. It was time to address that frightened, tired Millennial within me.
I thought back to the first time I felt a sense of fear and helplessness and landed squarely on the predicted—and eventually underwhelming--Y2K disaster. Inspired by a conversation about Y2K I’d had with my middle school students only a few months before, I decided that I would channel my uncertainty into a story about an anxious pre-teen who didn’t know what the new millennium held for her. It felt good, as the author, to know that ultimately my young protagonist would be alright and perhaps even stronger for her experiences... That therapeutic writing sprint turned into Doomsday Dani, my first middle grade novel. It will be published in March of 2023.
An Outlet During Uncertain Times
Writing during moments of uncertainty needn’t take a global event. Writing buoyed me through my divorce, work related stresses, loneliness, and fear of all kinds. When I find myself in the midst of a unique situation—be it a newsworthy, historical event or a day that leaves me feeling glum—I try to produce something. If I’m not feeling up to tapping away at a novel or short story, I at least try to scribble in my one-line-a-day journal.
So, yes, Millennial stereotypes claim that we baby our dogs and make impulsive financial decisions. But don’t forget, too, that we’ve endured our share of uncertain global events. No matter your generation, I encourage you to write through unprecedented times. It will bolster your hope until you come out unscathed on the other side.