Like many people, yesterday hit me hard. That day is still vivid in my mind.
I know it’s been 6 years but I’m going to post something here I wrote when I was going to give a writing workshop the weekend right after it happened and I wanted to talk about why writing matters even in—maybe especially in—difficult times.
In the light of Tuesday’s tragedy, I have heard people say they do not feel like writing. And I understand that feeling—we are all numb with shock. But we are writers. When we do not write we cut ourselves off from something that is an essential part of who we are.
I know the impulse to say: It’s only writing—it’s not important. That’s often the reason our writing gets pushed aside and given the least priority in our lives. But I would suggest that writing may be one of the most important things we can do right now—not instead of donating blood or giving support or helping in other ways, if we can—but in addition.
We are writers. We can give voice to the pain and horror and fear and grief and courage and strength we are feeling and seeing. As hard as it is, I would suggest we all try to write about this time. I do not think it will be over quickly. And it will be important, later, to have a record of what went on. When children and grandchildren ask: What was it like when the towers came down? It may be the words we write that will provide the answer.
We are writers. When we put pain and grief into words, we help others understand their own pain and grief. When we write about fears, we give shape to what others may only hazily understand and when fear has a concrete shape, we can begin to take steps to guard against what it is we fear.