By Andrew E. Kaufman
I've been thinking a lot lately about tragedy. The kind we write about on paper and the kind we see in real life.
I don't mean to be a big buzz-kill during the holidays, but after the heartbreaking tragedy in Connecticut, I think this is timely and it's important.
LJ posted a very valid question the other day on her Facebook page. She wondered if the violence she portrays on paper might in some way encourage or influence violence in the real world. It was a very candid and honest introspection, and I admired her for being so open and sharing it. It also resonated strongly with me because I've often been concerned about the same thing.
And I've struggled with it. A lot.
But I also managed to come to terms with it a while back, because I made an agreement with myself. Or maybe it was more of an understanding. Most of us who write mysteries and thrillers write with a specific purpose. An intent. For the most part, our novels focus on conquering evil, and our heroes aren't the bad guys (or gals)--they're the good ones. Our messages aren't to go out and hurt people; they're that those who are hurt can still find some measure of justice and resolution. It doesn't take away the pain--I know that--but it doesn't create it either.
There will alway be violence in the world. It's an unfortunate fact, but in some small way, on some level, I think our work fosters feelings of empowerment. It provides hope. For the ones who have never been touched by such horrible tragedies, it can allay fears. For the ones who have, it sends a message that there is in fact still good in this world, and there are people who champion what's right, who work every day to prevent violence, and when it does happen, who do what they can to make sure those who cause it will never do it again.
And for those of us who write about tragedy, I think it also helps us cope as well on a very real and intimate level. We don't enjoy violence, but we know violence is a reality, and when we reach out to our readers we connect with them in a meaningful and significant way.
What do you think?