So, there is always a lot of horrible news to be found in the world on any given day, but sometimes it feels like there is an extra helping of suckage in very short order. It is on those days that I feel most helpless and worthless. It is on those days the I wonder at the value of telling stories.
But today, while feeling heartsick about the recent loss of people who inspired others (both famous and unknown) and the horrible and senseless violence being perpetrated in my own country and in others, I remembered this quote from G.K. Chesterton: Fairy tales do not tell children the dragons
exist. Children already know that dragons exist. Fairy tales tell
children the dragons can be killed.
Yesterday I started to work on the first draft of a novel I've been mulling over for a couple of years. It has a 16 year old protagonist, is set in a vaguely contemporary world, and (at least for now) lacks the normal flair for romance that I normally have. For those, and many other reasons, I'm not certain I will be able to produce anything worthwhile with this book. (It has a hell-gate complete with motorcycle gang-like semi-possessed, virgin sacrificing villains. And a grandmother who turned a young girl into a cat in a fit of senility and now is trapped in ghost-pig form until her granddaughter can find the girl and reverse the spell. And white knights, a protagonist obsessed with the study of serial killers and the folks who protect the rest of humanity from them, and a house that is semi-sentient.)
But, already, I see ideas about the need to use power once it's discovered, and the politics of family and society, and fighting for what is right and not just what is comfortable and convenient. And I remember what Chesterton said and I think that there must be value in reminding the world, in reminding myself that dragons can be killed.
The world and life are difficult and dark. Some days more than others. But we can (and should) still speak out, stand up, and, sometimes even, fight those things that are dark and horrible and difficult.
So today I'm writing a story about a dragon slayer who worries she might be as bad as the monster she's trying to end and reminding myself that it is not who or what we are that matters. It is what we do.