The daily news is out of control. Whether one keeps up online or on TV, there is little there except alternating tragedies: the pandemic, of course; the mess in Afghanistan; riots and hate crimes; the storm in the northweast; the immigration problems along the U.S./Mexican border; polarized politics complete with lies and coverups.
Many writers cope with the continuing uproar by writing. In her latest Funds for Writers newletter, author Hope Clark said writing is cathartic for her. That is, it tends to purge negative emotions and, in doing so, creates a new attitude–or, let us say, a better or more hopeful attitude.
Writing, of course, changes one’s focus from the worst of reality to the task of stringing words together, to the subject matter of the work, or the locations and characters in the story. Whether the work is fiction or nonfiction, it usually involves research that’s a change of pace from the news. Writing takes us away, but it’s not like burying one’s head in the sand and becoming ignorant or uncaring about the issues.
Some people get away from it all by going to vacation, spending a day on the lake, camping or hiking in the mountains, or catching up on household chores. Some people repaint their houses every time there’s a national crisis. Others weed the garden.
And writers (often, but not always) spend their time in imaginary places of their own creation. It’s not always easy. As Hope Clark said, “If writing is a part of you, you crave and yearn to write. If you struggle with it, all the more reason to sit down and do it. If you write ten words in an hour, you do so. Chances are that prying those words loose might let the waters flow. Maybe only trickle, but the point is you are moving forward with getting words, any words, any amount of words, on the page.”
We aren’t writing to change the world but to stay sane in the world as it is.