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This is Now

Enjoy this fantastic new piece of writing from our patron Val McDermid to mark Book Week Scotland 2020. The theme of Book Week Scotland in 2020 is Future. Val draws inspiration from this theme and our See You in 10 Years time capsule project.

We are living in a time of chaos. We are living in a time of fear. We are living in a time of uncertainty.

What we need now is the confidence to rewrite the script. But if we’re truly going to do that, we need imagination. We need to imagine both what will happen if we sit back and do nothing and also what could happen if we challenge the future and change it.

But change doesn’t happen by chance. It happens because first we have the courage to be creative in picturing the world we want to live in, and then living as if we believe that world is possible.

It’s not always easy to express these ideas or work out how they can be put into effect. That’s where the power of imagination steps in. Whether it’s poets, novelists, lyricists, short story writers, essayists or writers of narrative non-fiction and journalism, writers bring us a lucky bag of possibilities.

We don’t have to agree with them; indeed, it’s often these moments of disagreement that crystallise our ideas more than anything else. Provocation is the best call to action; at least, it always has been for me.

Now more than ever we need to give space to the voices of young people and to listen to what they have to say. The inheritance we’ve bequeathed is not one of promise; it’s problematic as far as the mind’s eye can see. But the gift of youth is possibility, of ideas and ideals, of hope. And of determination.

Asking young writers to harness their imagination and create work that focuses on the future is an opportunity to take the first steps in a different direction. When this time capsule is opened in ten years, it will serve as a benchmark for us, to see whether we have accepted the challenges of today or run away from them. Either way, it will be worth waiting for!