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  • Writer's pictureJ. R. Erickson

Writing Through It

Lately I have felt paralyzed by the darkness in our world. Each time I get inspired to write, I open my laptop and make the mistake of tuning into Facebook or browsing the news feeds and suddenly I am not writing. I am reading about a mass shooting or a political scandal and the inspired me is shriveling and shrinking and crawling back inside so that I don’t have to think about it. You see, good writing comes from that deeper self that is connected to it all. The self that feels huge love and compassion and fear and gratitude and hope and apathy and rage. The self that is a reflection of my truth and that cannot look upon these horrors and remain unaffected. Instead, I look and recoil and then try to back away. Rather than feeling inspired to write something positive to balance the energies of all that negative, I feel scared.

I am a new mother. I am a daughter, a wife (sort of), a sister, a grand-daughter, an aunt, a cousin, a friend. Like most of the world, I love. When I read about the death of a child, it reaches into the depths of my being and squeezes until I have to rip my attention away and put it somewhere else. Tragedy is hard, but when it is intentional, when it is committed by a person or persons with malice, it becomes this horrifying enigma. Now I am looking – not only at the injustice for the victim and the grief for the family – but also the motivation of the person who acted out their cruelty. Why did they do it? This is the cycle that cripples me. It is here in this tornado of shock, sadness and ultimately questioning, that writing becomes less than secondary. I can barely think of writing. I wonder what’s the point? I might pen something that inspires hope, but will it merely be buried beneath the onslaught of another day’s darkness?

Yes, it probably will. But still I do it. Not always, sometimes I just watch a movie and snuggle my baby and pray that love wins. But writing is my way out of that confusion. It is also this hugely powerful tool to influence the world in a positive way. Just as my heart breaks when I read about tragedy, it soars when I read a beautiful poem or laugh at a funny story. The pen is mightier than the sword. We can see that when we are broken by the stories of these tragedies. We were not shot, attacked or abused, but collectively we feel beaten when we’re constantly steeped in the stories of those who were. It is our job – and by our I mean the whole of humanity – to cast our awareness onto all that is good and beautiful. We have to write about the love in those moments when we feel lost.

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