Many of us or our loved ones are without power, water, homes, or transportation in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy. There’s the desire to make sense of it all, be politically correct, or figure a way to prevent such devastation from happening again (especially if you have the expertise to do so). Disasters have a way of uniting people and building community. But they also have a way of making word workers, like writers, feel rather useless compared to those amazing rescue workers and technicians who save lives, fix power lines, and empty tons of water out of the subway tunnels. Yet, what else can we do? I taught, wrote lesson plans and worked on a proposal today. I’m not back to normal, whatever that is, but I do know that writing makes me feel more sane. And I don’t mean just writing emails about the hurricane. Get back to your writing today, even if you are without laptop juice. Write against the grain of what is happening outside, and make sense, and sentences, from the inside:
1.Take a few moments to grow still. Close your eyes, breathe, and clear your head. Put aside as best you can the weight and sorrow of the week’s unique events.
2. Find what to be grateful for, the bustle on Broadway, the fruit market that remained open all week, the kind neighbor, a warm blanket, a smiling Trick or Treater. As a writing warm up, you can write about these things.
3. Now, go against the grain of popular wisdom that calls for “being in the moment” and writing from that. Be in your own moments, getting to whatever you were writing when Sandy was a mere speck of speculation. However, in the spirit of life is fleeting, be ruthless. Write with urgency. Revise with a surgeon’s precision. Edit scrupulously. Write like it really matters. This won’t take you away from saving the world or a corner of your neighborhood, and it may restore a little sanity. That’s no small thing.
4. If you DO want to write about Hurricane Sandy, check out the photos posted from Margarita’s blog, or use your own cell phone photos or observations as prompts. Write from both sides of the human condition, the beauty and the terror, the wonder and the destruction of it all.
And if you want to, share your words and deeds. Creative expression, like positive ions in the atmosphere, make the world a better place.