What to say?

I’ve been debating today what to post, if anything at all. I had been planning, on Friday, to publish a post I’d been working on in which I answered some questions that I’d been getting.

But after the tragic events in Connecticut on Friday, that just seemed totally inappropriate. I spent the weekend spending time with my children, trying to avoid all the media about what happened. It was just too heartbreaking to listen to and watch.

This morning, in another attempt to avoid the news, I realized that was what I would post today: the reality of something like this.

I write stories in which people die, or are kidnapped, beaten, and otherwise generally treated pretty horribly. On rare occasions, some of those people are even children. Some might think that because this is what I, and other romantic suspense or suspense/mystery/thriller authors, write that we are somehow not as affected, or even immune, to events like this.

Just in case you’re one of those that think that, let me tell you: we’re not. I can write those stories for one simple reason: they’re not real people. Yes, I get caught up in my stories, and I feel like I know my characters just like I know my best friend, my parents, or my children. But at the end of the day, they’re characters in a story, people that I created in my head and who have no life outside my computer screen. When I am done writing for the day, I close my laptop, and they disappear until the next time I open it and bring their file up.

The children who were murdered Friday in Connecticut, or in a movie theater in Aurora over the summer, do not just patiently wait inside my computer for me to come back and do something else with/to/for them. They are (were) real people, who had real lives, dreams, emotions, and thoughts before someone decided that they didn’t deserve to have those things anymore. And that definitely has an effect on me.

You also should remember, when you’re thinking that we’re unaffected because we write things like this, that we are not just writers. At the risk of breaking my own rule about keeping my private life separate from my professional life, I am a mother, too. My children are not that much older than the children who were killed. Which means it’s all to easy for me to visualize my children in those classrooms, and myself in the position of those parents who are grieving today. And I was a mother long before I was an author – or at least, an author who got paid for writing. And it’s as a mother that I tend to react to things like this.

Things like this remind me of the world my children are inheriting. This is the kind of world we’re giving our children, and I don’t know about you, but I’m not too happy about it. Worse, we’ve created it for them. This is what we have done, as a society, and now we’re handing it to our kids and saying, “Here you go. Good luck!”

We need to teach our children right from wrong, and that violence is not a solution to our problems. We need to teach them that there are consequences for their actions. They also need to learn and understand that sometimes those consequences don’t affect them, but others around them, and that it’s not right to inflict those consequences on others.

I spent the weekend trying to figure out how to explain what happened on Friday to my children. I found myself completely unable to come up with anything – a rare experience for someone who can sit down and write a novel without thinking twice. My children haven’t asked a whole lot of questions yet, and I’ve yet to decide if that’s a good thing or a bad thing. Considering I can’t even answer the questions I have about it, I’m leaning toward it being a good thing.

What I find truly appalling is the people who’ve already begun to hold these children up as an example of why guns need to be banned. While I disagree and do not think guns should be banned, that’s not what is so upsetting to me. what is so upsetting to me is that while these parents are still trying to cope with their children’s deaths, while they are still looking at beds that will never be slept in again, presents that won’t be opened, and mourning dreams that will never come true, these people are using their children to attempt to make a point. Can we not let parents grieve without seeing their children’s names thrown around like pieces in some game? And really, anymore, it seems that’s all it is. Just a big game between those who want to ban guns and those who don’t. Both want to win and don’t really care how they do it.

I’ve rambled enough for today. Now it’s time to go paint some clay ornaments with my kids, make some Christmas cookie dough, and get back to work on my fourth book. Getting life back to normal is the only thing any of us can do right now.