Why Write?

I’ve struggled for days about what to say on this topic and how to say it. I vowed to keep politics out of my profession, and I’m sticking to that. But the events in Charlottesville transcend politics. Left or right, no matter what side of the political spectrum you sit on, hate is wrong. And so is keeping silent about it.

But I struggle with what to say. Bashing Trump won’t change anything. Bashing Nazis won’t change anything. Telling these people that their actions, attitudes, and behaviors are detestable won’t change anything. Yes, words have power but in the face of such reckless hate, they are useless. Because no one with that much anger in their heart is going to listen anyway.

And yet still I struggle because words are needed. I need words to tell my children about the world they are going to inherit. I need words to pray to find meaning, truth, and guidance. I need words to sort these issues out inside my own head. I need words to talk to my friends of color about how this is affecting them, how they are feeling, and how I can be a better friend in times like these. I need words to talk to my white friends so we can figure out how we can be part of the solution, not part of the problem.

Yes, words are needed. But what kinds of words?

Should I stop writing stories? The issue of hate in our country is so big and important, how can I possibly justify using my words to talk about fairytales? Writing fiction seems so trivial when so many are hurting and dying because of the color of their skin.

Because fiction gives us a chance to express our hopes and dreams for a better world. It gives us an escape, yes, but it’s also a way to process what’s going on around us. Through fiction, we can create characters, situations, and entire worlds in which to engage our hearts and minds, causing us to think about our own world in new ways. Good fiction entertains us. Great fiction challenges and changes us. It stretches us beyond the here and now and into another person’s reality. It shapes our view beyond our own backyard and thrusts us into places we may never actually see and cultures we may never actually visit. And in a time when so many are concerned only with raising themselves and those like them (while simultaneously putting anyone different down), perhaps fiction is more important now than ever.

That’s why I will not allow hate to suppress my words. Because, although my stories may not knock down monuments, they may cause a person to see things different. They may cause a change of heart. And that, my friends, is exactly why I write.

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