Over the past few days, I’ve been processing the horrible things that happened last week and trying to articulate its effect on me. This is not the first instance of terror attacks in the US, and sadly it probably won’t be the last. It wasn’t even the deadliest event that happened during those few days. But the difference for me is that this was in my home. I was at work at a college a few blocks away when the bombs went off at the Marathon. Several of our students were injured in the blast. It wasn’t an attack happening somewhere else this time — it was right in my backyard.
That day, I managed to leave just as they were locking down the campus and walked to North Station. The thing that stuck out to me most was how many children and families were on the streets trying to get home because the subway closures forced them to walk. I couldn’t get the pictures of Copley Square bathed in blood out of my head and the realization of how many children must have witnessed those explosions first hand was sickening.
I’m an adult and I’m still processing this (so forgive me if I ramble) — I can’t begin to imagine how a child is going to wrap their brain around it.
This is why I write.
Because books can show us the darkness that breeds in the corners of our world, and let us process it in a way that is safe and manageable. You can put a book down if you need to step away and digest. It’s a lot more difficult when it’s something happening in the real world and affecting your life right now.
Because books can illuminate that darkness with rays of hope. They teach us to be brave, even in the face of seemingly insurmountable odds. That while we may not understand many things about human nature, there are still plenty of people in the world who will run toward danger to help.
Because books give us an escape from the trials of life. When I was in grade school, I was bullied, and stories were my life line. If the books I write can give a child a measure of freedom and comfort by allowing them to step into another world, I’ll be a very happy author.
Because words have power and resonance. They can remind us of what’s truly important, even if the story has nothing to do with events in our own lives.
Because for me it can be cathartic. My first novel certainly was, and I suspect my current WIP will be too — the main characters are in many ways acting like terrorists in their fantasy realm, yet they’re supposed to be the good guys. After last week, I can no longer approach that manuscript in the same way. I’m hopeful working through those sticky issues will help me come to terms with what happened here.
This is why I write.
Why do you? I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments.