This post will relate to writing, as indicated by the title, but first please join me in a moment of silence for all those affected by the Boston Marathon bombing this past Monday.
I grew up 15 miles north of Boston. I was a kid in Massachusetts. I played, ran, fell, wore band aids from falls, and laughed on a small street in a small city 15 miles north of Boston.
I also cried there. I shed tears for no reason. I shed tears because of physical pain. I shed tears for emotional hurt. I shed tears for others.
When 9/11 hit, I lived in Massachusetts. I was only 11—days from turning 12, actually—but I remember. I remember finding out the planes came from Boston. I remember thinking the crashes were accidents. I remember not understanding. I remember feeling safer because I didn’t live in New York or Washington D.C. I was a kid. Not living in the places affected was a world of difference to me.
Two days ago, my home state was attacked. It doesn’t matter the source. My home state, my home, was attacked. People died running the Boston Marathon, an event that I always knew about but never attended. An event that made up part of the state I resided in until a little less than a year ago. A state that is still and will always be my home.
None of my friends or family members were injured in Monday’s events. For that I am more thankful than words can express. I also cannot put into words the feeling you feel when your home is attacked. I used to live 15 miles north of where the bombing took place. 15 miles. That’s not a long way when you look at the size of the planet. I walked Boston’s streets, rode its subways, sampled its restaurants, browsed its stores. I performed at its concert halls. I lived under its sky. I made it and that small city 15 miles north of it my home. That feeling never leaves.
And so when that home is attacked, there’s a feeling of breaking. You repair it. What else can we do but repair damage? But you don’t forget. 12 years ago when 9/11 hit, I didn’t understand. I do now. I understand in more ways than I thought I could in 2001. Your childhood home is a place that lives inside you. At least it is for me. It hurts beyond pain to see it broken.
I write fantasy. I’m writing the last few chapters of my thesis for Seton Hill this month. There is violence. There is death. There is loss. I’ve heard it asked of writers “How can you write about such terrible things when you live in this world?”
Let me offer my answer. I prefer my violence, death, and loss on the page. I write to tell a story. I write to deal with life. I write to hopefully give others a way to observe life. I write violence because it is a part of life. Do I like it? No. The world has known war since it began. I think it’s time it knew peace, but I’m not so much of an idealist to believe that will happen soon.
Live every day like it’s your last. Write every scene like it’s life. Read every story like it’s great.
If we kept the violence on the page, the world would be a better place. But this is the world we have. Don’t destroy it. Live in it. Do what’s right in the face of what’s wrong, in the aftermath of what’s wrong, and (most importantly) before what’s wrong happens.
Boston—my heart to you always.