My question to several writers I admire: “I find it profoundly difficult these days to be a writer. My inspiration and enthusiasm have been buried so far below an onslaught of awful news headlines and downright hate, trauma, and tragedy that I struggle to reach them. What’s a girl to do? In a world so woeful and broken, how can I dig beneath the heartbreak and create? Do you have the same thoughts? If so, how do you free yourself to write during these confusing and troubling times?”
I have received thoughtful and inspirational answers. I’m happy to share them with you here over the summer. I’m posting them in a random order, as I received their responses. If you have your own thoughts about these questions, I hope you’ll comment.
It is easy for me to become overwhelmed by the news of the day: political leaders acting unjustly, elected officials disregarding our environment, dishonesty becoming an acceptable mode of ethics. Everything I care about most feels threatened. All of this news can leave me immobile with fear and sadness. What has helped me most to keep functioning has been learning to set limits on the barrage of news that I expose myself to. At various times this has meant turning off the radio, avoiding Facebook, and taking a break from newspaper headlines.
Is there something wrong with me for feeling this way? Others seem to be energized to action by seeing all the injustice in the world. With all my heart I want to make this planet a better place, and to do that I need to be an informed world citizen. But too much news makes me depressed and hopeless to the point of paralyzation, so I struggle with balancing the amount of news I need to know against the amount that will stop me in my tracks.
As I struggle, I also remember this advice: today I may not be able to solve the world’s problems, but I can treat the people with whom I come in contact with love and kindness. And that’s what I try to do. I cling to my values of honesty and compassion, even when it seems as if others have abandoned them. And I trust that this will make a difference. That gives me hope to keep going, and keep writing.
David LaRochelle has been creating books for young people for over twenty-five years. His many picture book titles include The Best Pet of All, How Martha Saved Her Parents from Green Beans, and Moo! He is the recipient of the Sid Fleischman Humor Award, multiple children’s choice awards, and a three-time winner of the Minnesota Book Award. A former elementary school teacher, David still visits many classrooms around the Midwest (and world!) each year, talking with students about books, writing, and illustrating. When he is not creating new books, he loves to read, play board games, and carve unique jack-o’-lanterns, which you can view at his website.