I earned an MFA from Wayne State University in Detroit. I've published over a dozen short stories in various magazines and e-zines. My novel, "The Dragons of Hazlett", is now out, and I have two new novels which will be published by Mundania Press, LLC this year and in 2011.
Living in the moment is important; writing for the moment is not. Good writers give their writing staying power. That is, they work to make sure that what they write sounds as current to a reader today as it will to a reader in twenty years.
There is a tendency among some writers (and I lay claim to this fault as well!) to insert such things as brand names or current iconic figures in their writing. I think this is an attempt to connect with the readers, and to make the fiction seem very 'now' and 'current'. But what seems hip and new and oh-so-cool right now will be passe and dated and completely out of vogue in a very short time.
For example, let's say that a writer five years ago, wanting to be current, writes the following:
Tom turned off the television, sick of the Hurricane Katrina coverage. There was so much tragedy in the world, so many people suffering! Not that his family cared. His middle daughter was pouting because he wouldn't let her go to the movie with her friend so that they would worship their idol, Hillary Duff. And his son was already begging him for a Nintendo DS, and the toy hadn't even been released in the U.S. yet! His kids had no idea how good they had it.
Now, let's try that with all of the trendy parts removed:
Tom turned off the television, sick of watching the news. There was so much tragedy in the world, so many people suffering! Not that his family cared. His middle daughter was pouting because he wouldn't let her go to the movies with her friend. And his son was already begging him for a video game that wouldn't be released in the U.S. for another month. His kids had no idea how good they had it.
Which of these scenarios sounds more current? The first one, with all of the references to pop stars and news headlines, definitely reads like it was written in 2004. The other one would have been current in 2004, 2009, and - unless things change drastically - 2020.
Whenever possible, leave out references to current cultural trends, news stories, and even brand names because when you do, you are placing a big 'sell by this date' sticker on your work. In this world, things change in a heartbeat. What sounds current now will only sound dated by the time your work is published.
Unless you are writing a period piece, you you don't want to date your writing. period.