ZACHRY WHEELER

Science Fiction Novelist
A Post on Posts: Viewing the Past Through a Pandemic Lens
Posted on May 24, 2020
Category: Zeedub Musings
Zachry Wheeler, Science Fiction Novelist

As a quick disclaimer, this is going to be a weird post. It’s a post about posts. A sober reflection, if you will, about posting in the past and its bizarre effect on posting in the present and posting in the yet-to-be-understood future.

I know, right? You might need a strong drink for this one.

I think the best way to describe this post would be to identify what sparked the idea. Over the last several months, I have been neck-deep in a branding polish. Nothing earth-shattering, just some website upgrades, cover redesigns, and marketing updates. Part of it involved combing through old blog posts to apply some SEO updates.

And that’s when things got weird. As I sifted through my old material, I started to realize that much of it no longer applied to the world I inhabited. Not because the advice was bad or the points were invalid, but because they had slipped into a bygone era. In other words, I was now looking at them through COVID-19 goggles. It was oddly fascinating, like dusting off an ancient tablet full of rants and writing tips.

I ended up reading through my entire blog with this new brain filter. And so, I thought it would be interesting to highlight a few observations.

An Author’s Guide to Comic Cons

Easily my most popular post to date. It was even featured in an anthology book published by Southwest Writers. I have been very active on the convention scene, which served as one of my main marketing strategies. This approach, like so much in the entertainment industry, dried up overnight. Now it feels downright silly to concern myself with table covers and book stands. I had actually reworked my entire setup and was getting ready to debut it at one of my favorite annual events. But today, my “convention supplies” boxes remain buried in storage. I have no idea if they will ever be opened again. Even if things get back to relative normal over the next few years, the idea of big crowds in small spaces has been forever tainted.

Why I Stopped Watching the News

Wow, did this one change in a hurry. I still despise watching the news, but after the pandemic gained its juggernaut-like momentum, this notion went from an introspective detachment to a hair-raising necessity. Granted, I still stay away from the partisan bunk, but gone are the days when I could go weeks without opening a news site. I have to check in every day just to keep my wits. The world is on fire (sometimes literally) and it feels wrong to willfully ignore it. On a more positive note, the media landscape seems to be shifting away from the corporate model, as its public trust has completely imploded. I do love that independent sources have risen up to reclaim the moderate voice.

Why I Watch Soccer Instead of Football

This is one of my favorite posts. It’s a playful ribbing of American football versus international soccer. I’m a big fan of the English Premier League, which sucks up most of my weekend time during the season. Every so often, my wife and I would fly across the pond to attend a match, but the thought of being trapped inside a giant bowl of screaming people now seems reckless at a baseline. What really hit this home was when the German Bundesliga started back up, but without the fans. I watched a few matches in empty stadiums and they were … eerie. I have yet to determine whether or not I enjoyed the experience. Post-pandemic sports are facing a black hole of uncertainty. But regardless, I will likely never set foot in a stadium again.

Extra, Extra, Read All About It

One of my favorite hobbies has been working as an extra at Albuquerque Studios. It’s super fun getting to peek behind the movie-making curtain (and meet the occasional celebrity). But alas, COVID-19 has brought the Hollywood machine to a grinding halt. Most of my contacts in the industry have expressed grave concerns about the future. They are struggling to get their current projects out the door, let alone start new ones. Studio crews are dances of controlled chaos. They need to interact closely for 16-hour days, which is nigh impossible at the moment. I would get excited when casting directors called me for gigs. But now? I can think of few things more nerve-shredding than being trapped inside a movie set all day.

The Death of Live Music

Seriously, what the hell is going to happen to live music? This was one of my earliest posts, a rant piece where I derided the decline of live performances. But in light of the already-shifting landscape, the great pandemic may be the final coffin nail for big concerts. I am old enough to remember the heyday of Lollapalooza, where seas of fans would gather into massive fields in front of towering stages. These events were dangerous already, from rowdy crowds to rickety scaffolds. But in today’s world, entering Lollapalooza would feel like entering Thunderdome. Hell, seeing a local band in a dive bar now feels like a risky proposition. I love the energy of a good show, but I can no longer imagine squeezing into a mass of sweaty headbangers.

So yeah, those are some of my initial observations, as seen through my new pandemic lens. We are experiencing a world-changing event and nothing will be the same on the other side. Looking back on our usual activities already feels like looking into a time capsule. I have no idea where we will end up, but one thing’s for sure: it’s been a crazy ride already.

Read more:
Staring Into the Void: An Author’s Take on the Great Pandemic