To Write

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SOL Tuesday

They say that writing is good for the soul.  That it’s therapeutic.  Necessary.  We don’t just write to get words down on the paper.  To write is to understand.  I know this.  But yet, I don’t do it enough.  A friend recently said, in reaction to my whining about writer’s block, “Carrie, just write.”  That advice is ringing in my ear this morning.   Just write.

When a tragedy strikes it becomes even more important to write.  Why?  Does it help us make sense of it?  Will it clarify what is currently a muddy, murky sea of thoughts that won’t go away?  Can it make the faces of the dead, and the living, disappear when I lay down to sleep?  One can only hope.  So many questions that will most likely go forever unanswered.

A man shoots and kills his family.  He spares the two youngest children.  They escape in the night, running in their bare feet, to the neighbors home for safety.  This young man with his nephew who is five.  Alone.  Orphans.  Homeless.  Are they strong enough to carry on?  What can we do for them?  Is it enough to grieve with them?  For them? 

When we know we can’t answer these questions and we know we can’t make the hurt go away we busy ourselves with the things we can do something about.  We raise money.  We reach out.  We work to get the children back in school.  We go to the funerals.  We listen.  We remember.  We stay.  My grief is taking me in a different place. Now, when I look at people, especially children, I find myself looking deep into their eyes.  I focus on them and listen intently when they talk.  I will admit, I am highly distractible and find it difficult not to turn my head when someone walks by or when I hear a noise.  I am working to contain that.  I can’t go around hugging these kids every day (as much as I would like to) so instead I hug them with my eyes.  I can feel that they notice.  It’s different.  Sometimes I’m all but a stranger to them, but I think they walk away feeling like someone really listened to them for that moment. 

While so many of my questions about this horrific night cannot be answered, I can start to mend the heartbreak.  The first step, for me, is to write.  It solidifies for me what my instincts already set in motion and makes it permanent.  To write means we slow down and get a handle on what we’re thinking.  I am so grateful for the peace of mind I have when I know what it is….to write. 

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9 thoughts on “To Write

  1. I just went to a panel last week where a writer’s coach-type guy had some great things to say about writing, and the writing process. As I read your slice of life (And I am curious to know, though I’m not sure I want to, how these horrific shootings are related to you or your children/students…? It wasn’t clear to me in the piece.) I think about how this writer’s coach said that often the real story is behind the facts–the emotions of the writer connect with the emotions of the reader. And I think if you just aim to write an okay first draft of ANYTHING, then maybe you will realize what you’re really wanting to say, and then your second draft would hone in on what you’re really trying to say, and the subsequent drafts would say it, and say it well. Good luck!

    1. Kate, It was one of our school families that experienced this tragedy. Kids who graduated from us recently and one who was still with us (the 5 yr old). Horrible. Horrible. Horrible. Thanks for your advice – I will definitely keep it close to me!

  2. Carrie, I, too, want to write about this. I can’t. You’re brave for putting words down. I really like what you wrote about really looking at the kids, giving them your true attention, and looking in their eyes. I do think they notice.

  3. When the words won’t come for everyone, they come for some…

    When you say, “To write means we slow down and get a handle on what we’re thinking” it really puts accepting the horrible reality and putting into perspective as best we can. I feel for the kids who can’t and for the adults that are still shaken by this.

  4. This is just horrible. There are no words I have to make this better. But yet, I, too, would write.

    “To write means we slow down and get a handle on what we’re thinking.” Yes, yes, and yes again.

  5. I read this post this morning and have been sitting on it all day in my mind as I hustle and bustle about. I feel so overcome for everyone who comes in contact with this piece and know firsthand the tragedy it portrays. I don’t know that I could write about it yet and the perspective that “to write means we slow down and get a handle on what we’re thinking,” is something I’ve never sat on and thought about. I love this piece and at the same time am so sad that you had to write it.

  6. Thank you for this. I have been struggling to write about the tragedies my school has faced this year. “Just write,” hasn’t worked. Seeing others writing has been helpful. Lets me know someday I’ll get there.

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