Writing is an escape for me. It is an escape for many of us who craft words into stories, and stories into experiences for others. The process of writing fiction has always been cathartic because it allows us to step outside of our own lives and into lives of our own imagining. Who doesn’t want to disappear for awhile into a world of their own making; where unemployment checks, past-due bills and the uncertain state of nation and world affairs don’t have an influence? Who doesn’t want to temporarily shed the weight of reality in favor of the soaring reach of dreams?
That is the intention, anyway.
The past few months have left me paralyzed. The past week alone has left me gasping for enough breath to scream. I, along with millions of people, have witnessed the rending of the seams of the fabric of American society, leaving behind something that is wholly unrecognizable, but nevertheless horrifying on an unfathomable scale. For me, events have flickered over my computer screen, over my TV screen, with painful speed, as I struggled as though underwater to grasp what exactly every new executive order means for me. For the people I love. For my friends of all walks of life. For millions of innocents I have never met but for whom my heart is shattering.
Since November 9th, I have written few words.
I’ve tried. Believe me, I’ve tried. But I couldn’t find them. I still don’t know whether I have. Certainly not enough for what has transpired at the hands of the new American president (I will NEVER say his name). I will say that there are some eerie parallels between certain recent executive orders and certain events that take place in my dystopian YA novel-in-progress. Looming conflicts with peoples from sovereign nations, the catastrophic decommissioning of environmental protections. A villain who is a vain, power-hungry opportunist whose primary “tragic” flaw, and obstacle, is his own malignant narcissism. But who could have predicted the real-life Resistance would be led by Teen Vogue and the park rangers? (Also, I would pay good money to read THAT story.)
I digress. I’ve reached an epiphany of sorts this week, as immigrant families were turned away at airports and as millions of people became fearful once again of losing control over their health. As women across the world grew more uncertain about the autonomy they had over planning their families. As arts programs were pushed onto the federal budget chopping block and as truth-tellers in the press… the “fourth branch of government” and the American public’s last line of defense… continued to be berated with threats and scorn from the President of the United States. As all of these travesties were legitimized by inaction from Congress, and as lies were turned into “alternative facts.” As things got as bad as we all feared, and then worse.
As scared and as heartbroken as I feel right now, I’ve realized that the one real power I have left is my voice. The ability to use it in unison with millions of others, as we reach out to our elected representatives. The ability to use it to educate the ignorant, to further the ideas of intersectional feminism, conservation, equal rights for all. The ability to reach people through storytelling, to document atrocities, to analyze, to critique… and also to set free the dream, to imagine a better world, to fight back against the terribleness of this one with the things I need to say. The words I must find. It costs me nothing to do this. It costs me everything to stop.
As people in power do their best to destroy everything we’ve built, keep writing.
As marginalized groups come under attack, find the writers among them and raise their voices up. We need their voices, now more than ever.
As we push on into this uncertain and definitely unprecedented future, keep writing.
Keep writing, my fellow word warriors.