Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Literary Disturbance


My heart goes out to the victims of the Virginia Tech shootings. I've been depressed about it. What goes on in the heart of an individual that causes this type of grief? I'm disturbed for another reason. People are looking at the gunman's writing as a sign that something was going terribly wrong in his head. This worries me. My immediate reaction was that writers might feel stifled, worried that an ounce of darkness developed in stories would be seen as psychotic. Or teachers might become mind police if a student submits work that might be seen as gruesome.

Hell, I've written about people getting shot, mutilated, raped, and tortured. Indeed, writing these things freed me as an artist, forcing me to confront some of humankind's most horrific qualities. Going to that bleak place is where the good stories are.
Where would Stephen King, Paula Woods, James Ellroy, and Alice Sebold be if they didn't write about murder and other forms of mayhem.

5 comments:

jasonphoon said...

people are always looking for a scapegoat to blame things on. they even want to blame video games on this one ...

Liz said...

I think you're absolutely right. And I'll tell you, all week long I've been thinking, "Wow, what if Noel had had to report me for writing a story about a boy that (maybe) sets people on fire?" Thank you for not being the "mind police".

Cheryl said...

I think we find events like this scary not just because we can imagine ourselves as victims, but also because we can imagine ourselves as perpetrators in some parallel universe. Fiction writers are the folks who put those imaginings down on paper. But of course the key word is "fiction."

thelastnoel said...

Jason, yes, we should accept that some people are just crazy.

Liz, actually I was thinking of you when I thought of students I'd have to be mandated to turn in because work was "disturbing." A pyromaniac is a BIG red flag for some.

Cheryl, you're right. As writers part of our job is to get into the heads of some unsavory people and put those thoughts down on paper. I think that's why writers have weird personalities.

Liz said...

LOL! I'd be thinking of me too!

I guess this is the wrong time to confess that I really liked the Def Leppard album "Pyromania" a whole lot back in the day...