Writing Chaos Within Chaos: Keep those tears inside and keep writing
I’m sitting here thousands of miles away, reading the news, and my heart is breaking. It wasn’t enough that over one hundred thousand people in the United States have died of the virus and there are going to be hundreds if not thousands more. It wasn’t enough that people don’t care enough about others to cover their mouth and nose with a scrap of cloth to keep their germs to themselves, or that business leaders (including the president) believe that the economy is more important than human lives. It wasn’t enough that there are still people sitting comfortably in their little towns saying that the whole virus thing is a hoax because they, themselves, have not yet been touched by it (and I say yet!).
No, now the police—those who we look to keep us safe—are killing us too. And when the people rise up and say ‘no more’, they are only hit harder. Now, when the people gather together in peaceful protest, others send in their violence to disrupt that peace. Now, there are people who are too willing to take advantage of an already bad situation and make it worse by breaking windows and looting. Now, our Divider-In-Chief is standing outside of a church he has never set foot in, holding up a book he has never cracked open so that his followers can continue to be misled into thinking him a religious man when all he cares about is himself, optics, and getting re-elected.
The country where I was born and raised is going to hell and I’m sitting thousands of miles away trying to make sense of it all and…
I write happy stories. I write about romance and goodness. I write about people doing the Right Thing. About love, friendship, brother, and sister-hood. I write about pretty dresses and dancing. I write about people working against hardships and wrongs who will always prevail and make everything right again.
And yet with the world in turmoil, I suddenly find myself unable to add enough conflict to my stories to make them interesting.
I know in my heart that the only way for readers to feel strongly for my heroes and heroines is to see the suffering and then prevail. You cannot have a victory without a fight and right now we all need that victory.
And yet, I find that I’m having difficulty writing the fight.
I am yearning so strongly for calm that I’m not putting enough conflict into my stories. I’m not making my heroes heroic enough. I want everything to be roses—gentle, soft, and sweet-smelling. But it can’t be because without those difficulties you can’t reach the calm.
So, as I’m sitting here writing this, I’m thinking of the story I’ve already written and the absolute knowledge that of the nearly 40,000 words I’ve already written of it, I’m going to have to scrap all but maybe 10,000. I’ve got to start again. I’ve got to re-create my hero into a different type of person. Instead of being a calming accountant-type, he’s got to be a raucous adventurer with a big heart. My heroine instead of merely being a scientist has to be an empathetic logic-driven woman with a strong attention to detail.
My hero wants to go out and save the village until he gets distracted by the child on the street and then he’s going to save the child, only he’s already gotten distracted by the exciting game of blackjack that’s going on in the club. He’ll jump fences and go where he’s not allowed in order to pick flowers that are not for picking—all to make the heroine happy. The gestures are wonderful, the motivation is pure, the execution is lacking as is thought.
In short, I’ve got to put the chaos into the story so that we can appreciate the calm at the end.
The world may be burning all around me and thinking about it brings tears to my eyes, but the stories must be written. I need to give people something joyful to do when they come home from their protest. I need to make people happy and hopeful that in the end, it will be worth the fight. If that means that I have to delve into a chaos of my own making, then I will be strong and do so despite the fact that everything within me is crying out for peace.
My heart is with those protestors, and I will continue to do what I can to make the world a little bit better in whatever way I can.
One way I can help people is to assist in getting voices heard. Helping others who just want to make the world a little bit better. If you are a person of color who is struggling to make your voice heard, contact me and I will be happy to work with you for free, as my way of giving back, of doing whatever I can to help.