Earlier today, suffering from a supreme lack of focus, I wrote a short journal entry about how current events can derail a writer. Imagine my surprise when I closed out the program and saw this quote on my screen:
“You may not control all the events that happen to you, but you can decide not to be reduced by them.” —Maya Angelou
I am always shocked when the universe gives me exactly what I'm looking for. This is what I was trying to say, exactly.
I know I’m not the only person who’s been pulled away from their normal work schedule in the past few weeks. We’ve had two terrible terror attacks, a mass shooting, plus several other local events, large and small, that have altered all of us. Whether it’s being directly affected, incidentally affected, or simply sitting with your jaw dropped at the online reactions, it’s hard as hell to work.
How do you put aside the fear and horror and sadness and write? Fiction, especially. How can our words possibly be any kind of buffer, have any kind of meaning, in the face of evil?
This is the worst kind of resistance — external events out of our control. It’s so hard to turn off the television, to step away from social media, to stop reading headlines, and put your focus back on your work.
But the only thing to do is keep writing. You keep writing.
Novelists are the postmen of the literary world — as they pledge:
Neither snow nor rain nor heat nor gloom of night stays these couriers from the swift completion of their appointed rounds.
Which leads me to a fascinating bit of arcane history I wasn’t aware of — this quote is supposedly, according to Wikipedia, based on Herodotus referring to the "courier service" of the ancient Persian Empire:
"It is said that as many days as there are in the whole journey, so many are the men and horses that stand along the road, each horse and man at the interval of a day’s journey; and these are stayed neither by snow nor rain nor heat nor darkness from accomplishing their appointed course with all speed.
— Herodotus, Histories (8.98) (trans. A.D. Godley, 1924)"
Which reminded me... You know, in Colorado I grew up right down the dirt road from a old Pony Express stop, the Pony Express being the best form of communication across the Wild West prior to the invention of the telegraph. Note those cool stamps from Pikes Peak below.
Ah... the thought process of a writer, in all its banal glory.
And just like that I am reminded why I write, why I fight against the resistance, why I try so hard in the face of unspeakable horror and loss. There is always something to be learned. In these few minutes of looking outward, my frustrations have turned to fascination of the way the universe works, which in turn leads me to the single, powerful thought: All will be well.
As long as we are free, all will be well.
And you know what else? In the fiction world, we get to see the evil-doers thwarted by heroic people, and victims receive justice.