When Disaster Strikes by Lani Longshore

The most recent natural disaster, Hurricane Harvey, reminded me to review my earthquake preparedness file. It contains lists of what to do before, during, and after an earthquake. Most important, there are lists of things to keep packed and ready. I suggest that a writer needs to add a notebook and supply of pens to the list. When disaster strikes, we need to record it.

Without meaning to sound morbid, bad times come to everyone. When we’re caught in the middle of a crisis, our attention quite naturally should be on survival. Nevertheless, we should also keep recovery strategies in mind. One part of that process is to recognize the magnitude of loss, honor the conflicting swirl of emotions, and remind ourselves that we still have value.

Being of service is sometimes a recovery strategy, and as writers we can help others articulate their feelings. We can listen, and put in simple, concrete terms what we hear. We can publish our personal essays on blogs, on Twitter, wherever there is a venue. We can incorporate those experiences into stories and novels so that readers far away in time and space from the disaster we endured can benefit from the lessons we learned.

Living through the worst of times takes courage. We as writers can document the acts of courage, kindness, and humanity we witness. It may be a small thing, but it is one thing we can do. Perhaps those words penned during a crisis will bring a glimmer of hope for the future.

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