“The good old days weren’t always good / and tomorrow ain’t as bad as it seems”

Coming of age in the 80s, it seemed all my life I was hearing about how I’d just missed the 60s, how there used to be a time when people could make a difference and being a little weird was actually cool, but I’d missed it, it was gone forever, and I was stuck living in lesser times.

As a new writer struggling to break in in the 90s, it seemed that from the moment I started writing I heard about how I’d just missed all the best days of publishing–when books were easy to sell, when publishers cared about the books they bought, when someone could truly make a living at this. Those days were gone forever, no one new had much hope of getting very far, and the industry was just a shadow of its former self.

For a while it really seemed like by accident of birth and time, I’d missed all the good things.

Except … twenty years later I’m still hearing about how we’ve all missed publishing’s best days–only now, somehow, those best days, the boom times that are gone forever, have shifted to include many of the years during which I know I was already being told the best days were gone.

It’s how we tell stories. The golden age is always in the past, magic is always fading from the world, and kids these days never appreciate much of anything.

When really the world has always been a flawed and difficult thing, we’ve always been trying to fix it, and finding ways to create art and get it out into the world has always been a struggle. How that struggle plays out is still a work-in-progress, and its outcome is pretty uncertain for us all, but this is no worse a time to be healing the world, or seeking after beauty and truth, than any other.

We’ve always lived in the After. All the good things weren’t lost forever just before any of us was born. And now’s as worthwhile a time to do that thing that wants or needs doing, to be that person we want or need to be, as any other.

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