How many of us wonder, as we’re pounding out the lives of our hero and heroine, if there can be justification for Romance writing such times as terrorist attacks in war zones the tsunami in the Indian Ocean or the earthquake in Haiti. Can we justify spending so much time at our keyboards with, to be honest, very little hope of remuneration? Shouldn’t we be doing something?
The same questions come up for anyone deeply involved in what some might call a non productive hobby or career or avocation. And we who feel deeply worry the most about our place in the world. We each do what we can in our own way.
Spinning tales out of mid air is a time honored method of dealing with difficult times. "Tell me a story," whispers the frightened child, looking for distraction from the sounds in their closet. "Tell us a tale," commands the King when a new Bard comes to visit. "Make our heroes bigger and braver, our villains more evil, and our princesses even more beautiful." Tell us a tale, and take us away, if briefly, from our every day world. Give us something else to think about, if only for the next few minutes.
I know I’ve certainly thought this more than once, and said so to someone whose opinion was very important to me. She asked back: "If you stopped writing or showing dogs or riding horses would those tragedies go away?" She did have a great way of cutting an issue down to basics, and also reminding me very few people are so important their actions influence the world. A lot of people might think they are that important but that’s a matter for another time. None of us can stop the ocean or earth from expressing themselves.
Andre Norton wrote of heroes from the unlikeliest backgrounds, mostly what might be considered "throw away" people in the slums left over from horrific intergalactic wars. I wonder if this was her method of dealing with the lost children and lost people after governments have rolled over top of citizens? Certainly her "ordinary people" did extraordinary things, once they recognized their own value. Could some of this also have to do with why some of us create characters who can stop the ocean and who can communicate with the earth to convince her not to shrug so hard, or in such a vulnerable place?
We each do what we can, in our own way, to deal with tragedy. Whatever we do, we also reach out to each other, to the other spinners of tales, for the comfort of at least a few hours of relief from the unrelenting worry. And perhaps our words are read by someone who needed that particular story at that particular time. Hug your loved ones.