Last night on Twitter, I saw a post along the lines of “out of respect for the tragedy in Paris, writers please stop posting about your writing tonight.”
And I have to tell you, I had rather a gut reaction. As in, fingers twitched, eyes narrowed, and just like that, I was pissed. Off.
The attacks that happened yesterday were sad and they were shocking and they did what terrorist attacks are supposed to do: they scared people. They made people question, “Am I safe anywhere?” They made people worry about little things that shouldn’t be a worry, like going to the grocery store or the park.
They changed everyday life.
Every time something like this happens, the point is to interrupt your day, my day, the world’s day. To make us pause before doing an ordinary thing, and think of those terrorists. To make our day revolve around them. It’s pretty effective, on social media, at least.
“Don’t post about your writing, because your writing is petty, your writing is unimportant, your word count or editing status is crass in the face of tragedy. Callous. People died without rhyme or reason and it’s disrespectful to keep a log of your day on Twitter.”
Hmm. You’re allowed to think that, but I find I disagree.
There was another terrorist attack in Paris earlier this year. A satirical newspaper was targeted for doing what they do: producing satire. For writing and drawing. For completing everyday tasks as they saw fit, as is their right to do so. And they died for it. Writers died for what they wrote, artists died for what they drew, people died for what they did, and they did not deserve it. And the rest of the world said: we will print it too. Kill us all.
And so when on social media you say, “Do not post about your writing for the sake of the dead,” I wonder if you have already forgotten last January?
Sounds like a pretty big event to evoke for justifying why I posted a word count, but you know what? My word count is the sound of life going on. And it does go on, over days and nights. Without pausing or examining itself, it keeps going. We can march with it, or we can be swept away.
Things happened in Paris, they happened in Baghdad, in Lebanon. I doubt they’ll be forgotten anytime soon. In the meantime, we who are not directly affected will continue our lives. That is part of coping.
If you do not want to post about your writing in the wake of a tragedy, that’s your right. I hope it brings you peace. But I ask that you do not attempt to scold me into the same. My way of respecting the dead is to keep living my life, to keep searching for beta readers, to keep editing my book, and to tell people I’m doing it. That’s my life. I will not stop it for the terrorists.
Putting it that way makes for a rather poor rallying cry, though, so let me find a more succinct way of putting it. In the wake of what has happened, I say:
“Je suis Charlie.”
And that is my way of coping.