When real life collides with make-believe
As I sit here trying to figure out what to blog about, I am listening to the morning news. A local reporter has just finished interviewing a former DEA agent about the tragic events in Dallas last week. My adopted hometown is hurting. It is crying out in anger and pain and yet it is healing, much to the despair of some in the national media and on Capital Hill. I am proud of Dallas and the surrounding area. We have pulled together to help not only the families of the fallen officers and those injured in the cowardly attack last Thursday but we have pulled together to help one another.
Now we sit here, holding our breaths and praying nothing happens today. You see, today is a private memorial service for the fallen officers, one that will be attended not only by local dignitaries and members of both Dallas Police Department and Dallas Area Rapid Transit but by the President, Vice-President, former Speaker of the House and who knows what other politicians. Governor Abbott will not be here because he is undergoing skin grafts for serious burns today but he was here Friday, despite his injuries.
Why are we holding our collective breath? Because we are still on edge after last week’s events and we remember what happened in November 1963. The last thing we need is for something to happen to a visiting politician. That is the burden we carry, thanks to Lee Harvey Oswald. Unfortunately, we have also had salt rubbed in a very open wound by certain folks on social media over the last few days as they worry that evil Texans will rise up to kill the President. After all, we all wanted to secede from the Union. Is there any proof for their allegations? No, but they just love to kick the puppy when its down and they have proven it once again by politicizing a tragedy.
So, Amanda, what does this have to do with writing and why are you talking about the assassination of the five officers on a writing blog?
The answer is both simple and complex. The simple part is that the attack last Thursday and its aftermath came close to bringing my writing to a screeching halt. Partly because my mind simply could not fathom for a bit what happened. Partly because, once I realized it wasn’t all a bad dream, my worry for the officers I know with DPD grew as I waited to make sure none of them had fallen victim to the assassin. And yes, the shooter was an assassin. Partly because what happened last week will continue to impact those of us in the DFW area will forever be impacted by what happened.
It is complex because I am now processing what happened and find myself looking at it from a writer’s point of view. I’m not quite sure how I feel about that yet but bear with me.
I have watched video of what happened and the aftermath and my writer’s brain has started taking it apart, figuring out how I can adapt it for a story that had been simmering on the back brain for some time. No, not a story about an attack on a peaceful protest and the escorting police officers. This is actually the final short story I have planned for the current arc of the Honor and Duty series.
Heck, I even have another story where I have a politician who can’t open his mouth without inserting both feet. Well, guess what? Texas Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick has moved to the head of the pack of examples for that character thanks to his comments after the shooting.
The writer’s brain also works overtime when I think of the area of Downtown Dallas where those horrific events took place. I can picture the area, the buildings around it and now I find myself imagining what it must have been like during those long eight hours as the police worked to secure the area, locate and neutralize the shooter.
I find myself doing what I have done so many times before when reality hurts so much it would be easy to pull the covers over my head and hide fro the world. I write. I write about what happened and how it has impacted not only myself but those around me. I write my stories. They are my emotional outlet.
It all comes down to coping. How do we cope with traumatic events as writers and as people?
This post is not meant to be an invitation to debate gun control or any other hot button topic. So don’t go there. What I’m interested in knowing is how you as a writer cope with traumatic events. Do you write about them and then, at some later time, use those events as inspiration in your writing? As readers, what do you think about writers who use such events as inspiration?
Finally, because this is a writers’ blog, a bit of promotion.
About two weeks ago, I published the first in a series of short stories set in the Honor and Duty universe. Taking Flight told the story of Ashlyn Shaw’s first assignment as a member of the Fuerconese Marine Corps. The second story, Battle Bound (Honor and Duty), is now live. It takes place approximately 4 years before Vengeance from Ashes (Honor and Duty Book 1).
Newly promoted, Captain Ashlyn Shaw has been ordered to take Delta Company to the Bennington System. Their mission is simple: secure groundside defenses and seek out the Callusian invaders. It should be a simple assignment. The Fuerconese Navy had proven itself time and again since war had been declared to be more than a match for the Callusians. Once Taskforce Liberator, under the command of Admiral Tremayne, secured the system approaches, Ash and her Devil Dogs could get to work.
Except no battle plan ever survives the first encounter with the enemy. This time the Callusians are breaking pattern and it will take everything Tremayne and Ashlyn have to lead their people to victory.
The Devil Dogs will get the mission done, no matter what the cost.