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A few years ago, I sat on a public bench, waiting for a friend and reading a book. A woman interrupted me. (Please note: Do not interrupt a person reading a book!) The woman wanted to know what I was reading. I showed her the cover, and then the woman said she couldn’t read anymore. She used to read. She used to read a lot, but now she can’t. She can’t concentrate. Things have become so unstable lately, so volatile that she can’t concentrate on reading.

“Read,” I told her. “Go read a book. You’ll thank me later.”

After she left I muttered under my breath, “You think it’s hard to read in this environment? You should try writing.”

I know a lot of writers. We plug along. We ride the waves of self doubt and the waves of cultural madness. We have no choice. Being a writer, or an artist, requires a little unplugging. So we unplug. And then we plug back in. And our blood pressure goes through the roof and we unplug again. We write. It’s incredibly selfish of us. It’s incredibly hopeless. And it’s incredibly depressing as we watch the celebrity-titled books fly off the shelves while ours, and those of many authors I know, linger and gather dust.

You want to help the world be less crazy? Support the arts. Support a writer. Buy a book that does not have a flashy familiar face on the cover. And be seen reading it. And then buy another.