I am a writer. I am not a police officer, a social worker, or a nurse. I do not save lives. I cannot point to anything I have done at work on any given day and say with certainty that I have made a positive difference in someone’s life. Why then, do I bother? Why should you?
Because stories are a vital tool. They prepare readers to face challenge and tragedy and they help readers process and deal with pain after the fact. I remember reading “Thirteen Reasons Why” a couple of years after my cousin died by suicide. The book, in case you haven’t heard about it, tells the story of a young man trying to deal with the suicide of a girl he went to school with by listening to the recordings she left behind. *
Reading it was painful, of course, and I spent a significant portion of the book on the verge of tears. But it was also comforting. Comforting to know others could feel as I felt, to be given a framework for grief, to know that I was not alone in this pain.
Writing, good writing, makes a connection between the writer and the reader. It comforts and it teaches. It gives us a safe space to test our emotional responses.
I would love to hear about the books and stories that helped shape the way you look at the world and those that comforted you in hard times. Please share them with me by posting them in the comments.
* Jay Asher, Razorbill, 2007