Monday, November 14, 2011

The difference between fantasy and reality

As you all know, I’m participating in NaNoWriMo this month, in which I attempt to write a 50,000 word novel in a month. So far so good, I’m keeping up with my word count, and my proto-novel is coming along nicely. (Whether or not it’s any good is a whole separate issue.)

(This is my word count as of this morning.)

But what I haven’t discussed is what the novel is about. This is a book idea I’ve been kicking around for over a year, and NaNoWriMo gave me a good excuse to put some of my ideas on paper.

In a nutshell, this unnamed book is a cross between James Rawles’ Patriots and William R. Forstchen’s One Second After. It involves the effect of a financial collapse on a family originally from Los Angeles.

I’m over the ominous second week hump, a time many NaNoWriMo participants drop out for a number of reasons, including lack of time, lack of interest, and lack of belief that their plot is worth anything. Supposedly the third and fourth weeks are easier, because participants get into the swing of things and their novel begins to take shape and look better.

I’ve been prey to these same doubts and concerns and insecurities as anyone about what I’m writing, but I’ve plowed on just the same. (After all, it would be embarrassing to give up. What excuse could I give to you, my readers, if I dropped out?) And, just as predicted, as this second week comes to a close I’m emerging from the fog of doubt to realize that maybe, just maybe this plot may work.

Right now in my book, the euro just collapsed and Europe has descended into anarchy. The result in America was immediate and catastrophic, with massive numbers of people withdrawing their money from their banks, rioting in most of the big cities, and necessities such as groceries suddenly in short supply because transportation has been interrupted by the rioting. There is a cascading effect developing which will have horrible repercussions on society’s fragile hold on civility. These developments make writing easier, because I’m pounding out scene after scene of how my fictional family handles the crises.

I came down from my office this morning, shaking off the mental dust from the disturbing events taking place on the pages of my book. My day’s word count done but my mind was still clouded by the hypothetical events unfolding. Writing a novel really is like entering a different world, from which it can sometimes be difficult to emerge back into reality.

So as I walked over to the woodstove to warm myself, my husband turned to me and said, “Have you heard about the latest in Europe?” No kidding, that’s what he said.

He told me about how German’s chancellor Merkel is making a ruling to allow European nations to voluntarily exit the euro. Then I got online and saw the headline, "Eurocalypse is in full panic mode and Italy blowing up."

See? Sometimes it’s sometimes hard to distinguish between fantasy and reality. Although my book is supposed to take place two or three years in the future, sometimes I wonder whether or not I’ll be able to stay ahead of reality as I flesh out the fantasy.

What was personally disturbing about my emotions this morning is the realization that, should the events in my book actually become reality, how unprepared we (as a nation) are to handle it. It’s not just that people don’t have adequate food and medical supplies stored up in the event of disruptions. It’s that people are not prepared to live without the secure, dependable conveniences we all taken for granted in America: JIT transportation, the value of our fiat currency, and possibly the most important thing: the trust we have with neighbors and strangers that we won’t get shot or mugged merely for walking down the street. It’s a scary scary world I’m writing about in this book, and I don’t want it to come true.

On a personal level, it also makes me realize how vulnerable our family is as well. A few minutes ago I asked my husband, “Should we buy more xyz?” [Fill in the blank with your favorite preparedness item.] He said, “Sure we should. Except we don’t have the money.”

Oh yeah. He’s right. Our business’s busy season is over. This is the time of year we drastically tighten our collective belts, so as much as I might want to buy more xyz, it ain’t gonna happen.

In the opening chapters of my novel, the characters are financially secure. But as events unravel, they act on a tip from an inside friend and withdraw their considerable savings from their bank before it goes under. Armed with this plethora of cash, my fictional characters decide to spend it on preparedness supplies. They converted their fiat money savings into tangible assets.

As I wrote this, I fully realizing most people don’t have that advantage of financial security and money in the bank. Most people are like us and live paycheck to paycheck. They don’t have a store of cash to convert into tangibles.

On the other hand, my book characters are dealing with world and national events that are pressing, immediate, and urgent. Whereas we, the ordinary citizen, still have time to get our preparedness affairs in order. The euro hasn't collapsed. America hasn't descended into wide-spread riots. We still have time to do the things we always talk about doing “someday.” We still have time to do things little by little, as money permits.

In other words, ordinary people can become as prepared as my fictional family if they get started now. But how many people actually will? Or will they keep their blinders on and assume no financial catastrophe can ever occur? Or do they talk about doing things “someday,” but deep down thinking “someday” will never happen, so what’s the rush?

I hope to God that what I’m writing truly is fiction, because I’d seriously hate to write a precursor of future events.


  1. When and where can I purchase this book?
    Soon, I hope?

  2. One definition of fiction is reality made believeable. I read a lot of science fiction,which involves taking known science and guessing ahead. Essentially, you're doing the same thing,with social and economic events. I suppose there's some comfort in the unknown-that there are so many variables that all of them can't be taken into account,and it may not turn out as bad as predicted..hopefully, it won't turn out worse.
    You wouldn't be the first author to accurately describe future events-it's just a matter of looking at the individual pieces,and seeing what image the puzzle forms.

  3. Ms Patrice,
    I recently had the privilidge of spending a weekend with 25 professional writers (peots, novelists, screnewriters, etc.) and the best advice I have ever heard is "The first draft is always written by someone else" In other words, get those ideas out on paper, however they happen to flow. Then edit that first draft like someone else wrote it. I am sure you finished product will be lovely and meaningful, so just keep up the great attempts!

  4. I saw on Fox Sunday a.m. an interview with the Former Israeli United Nations Embassader. He was commenting how the world slept while Pakistan developed nuclear weapons. The world let North Korea develop them as well. Now the world is indifferent that Iran almost has theirs ready.

    He said that America is preoccupied with their elections...especially the economy and jobs. He said that if Iran is ignored, by this time next year Americans won't care about jobs or the economy as they will be concerned about terrorism and no one will have jobs!

    He indicated that it would have been better if our pres. would have taken more of a lead with the U.N. to get Iran stopped. Now Israel will have to go it alone and they will not be letting the U.S. have advanced warning.

    I think I remember hearing Iran boast they had made arrangements with Cuba to strike the U.S. if Israel first strikes Iran.

    In my opinion, Israel is going to have to act quickly as Iran is supposedly almost finished. Last year "someone" was able to slow the nuclear development via a computer virus. This time will there need to be a direct strike?

    We think our world will never change. Heads hide in the sand as we watch the next football game or take the next vacation. So many folks don't want to know and therefore are making no provisional plans.

    It is predicted that as of July 2012, the U.S. will no longer be able to print the money they need OR borrow money from other countries...thus hitting a debt wall. Printing beyond this point will result in hyperinflation. Add to that the collapse of the euro and how it will effect global markets, terrorism on our own soil, and I'd say our day to day life will look strikingly similar to the book Patrice is writing.

    This is the time to pray earnestly for our nation and to hear from heaven for any instructions specific to readiness.

    Noah got ready, Joseph too. I'm ready, how 'bout you?

  5. Today it is hard not to be mad at the people and the corruption that brought us to this horrible reality.
    Going thru all the scenarios feed my paranoia and make my stomach do flip flops. An anger and fear rise in me - wishing there was some place to run to, that my family and I won't be effected. But where to run?
    For now, my husband will continue watching world events and taking charge so I can continue to live in my blissful ignorance with a happy tummy....

  6. Patrice,
    I am a realist, the probability of this scenario becoming fruition is high.
    I am praying that your NaNoWriMo novel is a success
    but, I am praying even louder that it remains a fiction and we avert the novels plot you have described.


  7. Phyllis (N/W Jersey)November 14, 2011 at 5:16 PM

    Hi Patrice,
    Sounds like a good one! I learned a lot from those books, but they were from a man's perspective. We gals need a story that is told from our side. Men protect and provide; women hold everything else together.
    Can the general public buy any of the novels? If so, sign me up!
    Keep pounding that keyboard!

  8. I would like to read a humorous survivalist novel. Not because struggling to survive is funny, but because there is such a thing as survival planning fatigue. Sometimes I want to laugh and forget about all the stuff in the news. One day the stock market is way up, the next day it is way down. One day Europe has a plan and the next day the plan is scrapped. One day America is doing better, the next day we're doing worse. I feel like we're all living on a teeter-totter and we have no control over the fulcrum. I want off!

    I would love to have a day of laughter and a good book to read to get my mind off all the dreary news. Sure, I know that being aware of things is vitally important, but I really am suffering from overload. A funny book about an inept survivalist family and how everything turned out well for them through a series of accidents, missteps, and poor planning would be a welcome change. Another family struggling to survive? Sorry, but that's been done to death.

    Crawling back into my crone's cave now.

    Anonymous Patriot

  9. Sounds like a good idea but maybe spice it up a bit and don't have a happy ending. See all the "survival" type books I have read end where everything is all great in the end. how about a good strong female character that takes what she has learned from seeing family, friends, attempt at a new start completly destroyed pick up wipe herself off and continue her journey mabybe in book two. Kind of a mix between the female character in Dean Koontz Intensity and the ladies in The Athena Project. Just a thought

  10. I can't wait to read your book. Although, this book may be fiction by publishing standards, it sounds that this book may be prophetic and a message given to you by God to write and warn people. This would explain the intensity of emotions during this writing. My prayer is that you will have freedom as you write to present a clear message for all to read. All praise, honor and glory be to God. May God bless you abundantely.

  11. I'm excited about your book. The two books you mentioned woke me up. Will others begin to prepare? Not if they are like virtually 100% of my family and loved ones. I tried to gently wake them up but to no avail. Like Matthew Henry said, “There are none so deaf as those who will not hear. None so blind as those who will not see.”

    While it hurt deeply to leave them (East coast Maine to Florida), I sold every earthly possession and moved to the Mountain States. When chaos hits the cities, they will know that I'll have extra preps for them IF they can get here. But you and I know that will be virtually impossible. I pray for them. Keep up the good work and faith Patrice. Montana Guy

  12. Well, being confident you're a better novelist than Mr. Rawles (haven't read "One Second After", but I made it through about 100 pages of "Patriots" before giving up and deciding that he's a much better blogger than novelist), I also join in with the hope that this book, when complete, will rapidly be offered up for purchase by the public. Money for you, great fiction for's win-win all around!

    Good luck.

  13. I have been looking for a different perspective on what economic collapse will look like and how someone else will cope with the aftermath. The best way to build a complete plan is to compare it to someone else's and merge the two and then repeat with a third - everyone will bring a different perspective and solutions.