I don't want to live in fear.
In light of the events taking place in Connecticut last week, I felt like it was time to say something about it. I don't have anything particularly insightful to say. It really sucked, and it makes me feel sadness for the families going through such a difficult time right now. I think of my own son and family, and I can't even imagine how something like that could happen. The thought of it happening anywhere close to my life terrifies me...
But still, I'll say it again, I don't want to live in fear. Despite everything that happened, I refuse to live in fear because of it.
Being afraid of something like this solves nothing. There are some messed up individuals in this world, and nothing we do will ever rid us of them. They will always find some way to destroy. But look at how resilient the rest of us are. Look at how we rebuild, never fading, never quite forgetting what we are. That wouldn't happen if we remained afraid of such madmen. Fear makes us angry, not allowing us to look rationally at the problems before us.
I don't care so much about gun reform, but I certainly don't want to see armed guards walking around and "protecting us", telling us what we can and can't do. Hell, I get nervous now going to a movie because there are armed police officers on sight, a constant reminder of our own fear and of course, the deadly attack not too long ago in Colorado.
The majority of us know what we are not supposed to do, and I think we should stand up for that. We should tell our leaders that we do not need more rules and regulations. We don't need armed protectors on every street corner.
We need sanity. We need to listen to those few individuals in society that are incapable of respecting the lives of the rest of us. Many of them simply need help, they need resources to help identify them, treat them, and in some cases, house them. I'm in now way advocating locking up the mentally ill, but currently, there is so much red tape between the mentally ill and help, that nothing can be done to help them. Until it's too late.
There will always be butchers in the world, people without any regard for the rest of us, people who only want to see the rest of suffer. But the mentally ill...there are ways to treat them, to help them, and maybe, save ourselves and our children in the process.
How crucial is setting in a story? How would The Hobbit feel if we didn't know anything about Middle Earth's mountains and forests? What impression would we feel reading The Jungle if the gritty landscape of the city was drawn out of the story, leaving us with only the characters? Would Needful Things sound any different if Castle Rock faded away into obscurity?
The setting of a story takes us away from out world, and puts us in another. We might know this new world, or we might not. It might be a real place, or it could be a complete fabrication. But the setting of a story provides the framework for the journey we are about to embark on. A recent trip forced me to examine setting in my own stories, as well as the inspiration behind those settings.
Having returned from a trip to Arizona, I really started thinking about setting in the grand scheme of writing, as well as my own writing. I thought back over the years to all the different places I had traveled to and the way those places inspired my writing, creating new settings for my characters and readers to explore.
The Triker Forest in my Chosen of the Light novel, Spirit Summoner, was deeply inspired by one of my earliest visits to the Hoh Rainforest on the Washington peninsula. As a child, I was taken aback by the darkness of those forests, which in turn inspired me to write more detail in the Triker Forest of my own book. Before the Hoh, my Triker Forest was a mere obstacle to be overcome, but after, I had found a new setting, and the Triker came alive and dark. It became its own place in my book.
Yellowstone was another huge source of inspiration for my young mind. The sheer strangeness of the park, coupled with its own natural beauty, gave me ideas for how to construct the landscapes in my own book. The wastelands of the Karahesian were rooted in the blasted hot plains around the Mammoth Hot Springs. The Barricade Mountains found an origin in the mountainous area around the Lower Yellowstone Falls. I remember little from my first and only trip to Yellowstone, but some of the landscapes left a deep mark on me, and it bleeds into my writing still.
Sometimes, I think setting can become a little overwhelming, as well as the inspiration behind it. In one of my earliest drafts of Chosen, I found myself inspired by the time of year around me, specifically Christmas time. The cold in the air, the sounds of music and smell of pine, and the feel of generosity inspired me to write a similar type of holiday into my draft. I was a young writer at the time, and looking back, I know why I eventually cut this setting out of my book. It simply did not fit. Sometimes, you have to choose what stories to focus your inspiration into.
Despite my best efforts, the sights of Arizona have inspired me as well. From the stubby little trees of the Coconino Forest, to the bare rocks and plains around Pheonix, to the red rock trails of Sedona, I came to realize that I've never really explored a desert landscape in any of my writing. Here was a place rife with potential, that conjured up any number of stories, and I could think of virtually no writing of my own that had made use of such a setting. I'll definitely need to change that, and soon.