Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Writing and Weather by Marta Perry

We seem to be riding a wave of weather-related posts lately, and I've been thinking about what Leann said in her blog post about getting a story out of all the crazy weather. It seems no matter where we live, there is some weather-related phenomena to write about, and I think doing so can bring a reality and freshness to a story that is important. Someone recently used the words "disaster fatigue" in my hearing, referring to the fact that after we watch so many stories on the news of disastrous tornados and terrible tsunamis, we begin to detach from them.

That's human nature, I suppose. We watch, we marvel, we say a quick prayer for the victims, maybe we give money or send other aid. But then we move on. There are always new stories, new things going on in the world to engage our emotions and motivate our giving.

But what about the people who actually lived through the disaster? For them, moving on is not so easy or so quick. Here in the Susquehanna Valley in Pennsylvania, we are still recovering from the disastrous flooding that accompanied Hurricane Lee on its rampage. That happened in early September, but some people are still out of their homes, still unable to get on with their lives. For them, the flood is still now.

We were fortunate last September, more fortunate than many. We were isolated for a few days out here in the country, unable to get to town because of the river flooding, but at least we were warm and dry. The creek rose into the barn, but then it flowed back out again without causing much damage. Still, we were involved. Friends, church members, other people we don't even know were hurting. We gave money and supplies, fixed food and offered prayers. When the community is in pain, we all are.

And what does this have to do with writing, you ask? It's my feeling that all of the things we go through become a part of our creative imagination. Sometimes as writers we're not even aware that it's happening, but there it is on the page--we've worked out our grief and anguish through our fiction, and if we've done it well enough, we've drawn other people, people who haven't known this particular disaster, into it with us.

I'm in the planning stages of a new trilogy at the moment, and sure enough, a flood has worked its way into the story. It's part of my life, so it's part of my story. If I've done it well enough, perhaps God may use it to move or to comfort someone else, and that is why we write, isn't it?


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