Tuesday, June 28, 2016

When Writers Should Just Be Quiet

by Eva Marie Everson @EvaMarieEverson


I live in the Orlando area.

A week or so ago, we endured the most awful few days I can remember in a long time. Sure, in 2004 we were hit by three of the four major hurricanes that nearly beat our state to death. We lived without water. Without electricity. And we did so in hot and humid conditions.

But this … these events—the murder of Christine Grimmie, the mass shooting at Pulse Nightclub, the alligator attack and subsequent death of little Lane Graves while vacationing at Disney with his family—took us by surprise. There were no warnings. No one on The Weather Channel told us to baton down the hatches.
And these tragedies involved innocents and the possibility that if someone had said something—anything—to alert the authorities (other than the gun shop owner who tried!) they would not have occurred.

As a writer, I immediately wanted to take to social media to express my grief. My anger. My confusion. But, there are times when writers just need to hush. There is a time for everything, King Solomon (or so we believe) wrote in the book we call Ecclesiastes. And this is so.

Writers, especially Christian writers (I believe), must have all the facts before spouting off. They also must allow the Holy Spirit to settle the issues and emotions within them. The hurt. The hate. The anger. The confusion. They should—they must—allow their heart to beat in rhythm again. Rhythm with Him, above all else.

So, I waited. At the end of the week, when I believed I may have put all the pieces into place, I wrote on my Facebook page:
I just sent a txt to a friend that I think sums up this week in Orlando. First Christina Grimmie. Then the mass shootings at Pulse. Then the sweet child dying at Disney.

The air has gone out of Orlando, I told her. It's palatable. It's what we are talking about, everywhere we go. It's painful and, sadly, it's real.

And we can all argue our points. Yes I believe if you are on a no fly you should be on a no buy. Yes I worry about any radical religion. And yes I believe in MY right to own any gun I want to and to take it out to my property and shoot the heck out of it if I want to. When I want to. If I want to.

And I believe in my right to defend myself or my loved ones if it ever came to that.

But I don't believe in murder. I DO believe we need to address the REAL issue, which is radical religion married to mental illness, which no one really wants to talk about.

I've never known a single gun that woke up one day and said "let's go kill someone." I also don't know a car that says it or a plane that says it or a knife that says it. Yet even after all the car accidents and plane crashes and knifings we keep getting in our cars and boarding those planes and buying butcher knives for our kitchens without blaming the cars, planes, and knives. No one calling for a ban, even when someone uses them purposefully to kill.

Since Tuesday I'm also more cautious when I walk my dog along the path of the pond in my back yard. Because it is the season for mating. And aggression.

And I don't just mean gators.

And that's just the way it is.

No air. No air.

The result was phenomenal. Lots of shares. Lots of positive comments. None negative. Not a single one. I think this is because I waited until I had my emotions in check but had not lost all feeling entirely.
Years ago, after a traumatic event in my personal life, I attempted to create a book from the heartache. When I presented to editors—all who had known me for years—they were shocked by the venom in my words. Of course they rejected my work, and I walked away, shaking my head at their insensitivity.

Years later, I understand why they said “no.” I needed to get my feelings in check before I could write fair and balanced about the events as they’d truly transpired.

This morning I watched a “Newsy” report on whether or not it’s right to call the Orlando shooting the largest massacre in our history, seeing as we have events such as Wounded Knee to add to the mix.

This news report was so fair, so balanced, I had to share it on social media. Then I read an article in The Orlando Sentinel from my writing buddy, Dan Beckmann. Dan spent years behind a camera for NBC News, so he’s seen his fair share of tragedies. But, like me, Dan waited to respond to the Orlando mass shooting. I found his words both gripping and tremendously well said. (Well said, Danny! Well said!)

Writers, when they experience pain, often want to write out of that hurt. But sometimes—most times—waiting for the right “season” as King Solomon so aptly put it, is the best first step in expressing your true feelings. Especially if you wish to be taken seriously as a writer.

TWEETABLES

Eva Marie is a multiple award-winning author and speaker. She is one of the original five Orlando Word Weavers critique group members, an international and national group made up of critique chapters. She served as the original president from 2000 to 2007 and is now president of Word Weavers International, Inc. Eva Marie served as a mentor for Jerry B. Jenkins Christian Writers Guild for several years and has taught at a number of writers conferences nationwide. During the 2010-2011 school year, Eva Marie served as an adjunct professor at Taylor University in Upland, Indiana. She describes it as one of the best times she ever had while working. Eva Marie also serves as director of Florida Christian Writers Conference (along with Mark Hancock) and the Education Consultant for SON Studios.

She is both a past and current student at Andersonville Theological Seminary where she plans to receive her Masters in Old Testament Theology sometime before her ninetieth birthday. Eva Marie and her husband make their home in Central Florida where they are owned by one very spoiled dog, a funky chicken, and two hearts-full of grandchildren.

*Carol Award Winner for The Potluck Club
**ICRS Gold Medallion Finalist
***Multiple awards, including 2012 Inspirational Readers Choice Award & Maggie Award (Chasing Sunsets), 2013 Maggie Award & 2013 Christy finalist for Waiting for Sunrise, 2014 AWSA Golden Scroll Award (Slow Moon Rising), 2015 AWSA Golden Scroll Award (The Road to Testament)
****CBA Bestseller List several months running and a finalist for Retailers Choice Awards, 2013

17 comments:

  1. Well Said, Eva. Well Said. I wish all people would do this. I have posted or said something before the matter was settled in my head; my emotions got the best of me. I made a fool of myself. Thank you for the wise advice.

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  2. Well written and logical. Whenever people respond immediately, they typically spout emotional talking points that have been repeated ad infinitum with little thought or logic behind them. They attack symptoms rather than root causes. And they continually do that because it gets the reaction they want--more emotional, illogical ranting. Especially appropriate is your comment about addressing the root cause of radical religion and assaults on guns rather than on the sin that causes people to use those means to commit their wickedness.

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  3. Your words are wrapped in wisdom, Eva Marie. We need to know when to stay out of God's way and let Him be the first responder in tragedy. We can always follow after.

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  4. So true, Eva. When tragic events happen the news media is ripe with writers jumping on the story. All sorts of words spill out in the rush to tell it like they see it. Imbalance in drawing conclusions, and sometimes, immediately manipulating the details to serve a particular bias, does damage to how people hearing and reading those words will process the event. As Christians we need to run to our Father in prayer and learn His heart in the wake of such trauma before addressing it. Or, not addressing it at all. We are writing His answer, and that must be our purpose with anything we write. Your thoughts on the topic are sound. May you know God's heart and mind healing graces as you shine for Him in this dark season.
    Joy!
    Kathy

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  5. So true, Eva. When tragic events happen the news media is ripe with writers jumping on the story. All sorts of words spill out in the rush to tell it like they see it. Imbalance in drawing conclusions, and sometimes, immediately manipulating the details to serve a particular bias, does damage to how people hearing and reading those words will process the event. As Christians we need to run to our Father in prayer and learn His heart in the wake of such trauma before addressing it. Or, not addressing it at all. We are writing His answer, and that must be our purpose with anything we write. Your thoughts on the topic are sound. May you know God's heart and mind healing graces as you shine for Him in this dark season.
    Joy!
    Kathy

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  6. Yes, so very true. Tragedies and evil have always been present. But now, in this era of instant publishing, it's easy to be quick and careless. The email response written in anger. The mean tweet about a celebrity we've never met. The blog post spewing self-righteous indignation. Sadly, these words are often not only damaging but also permanent. Our delete buttons can't erase what's been read. And every time we write without God's hand and direction, we contribute to the world's view of Christians as haughty and cold.
    I'm sharing your words and hope they spread far and wide... xoxox

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    1. Thank you for sharing! I appreciate you!

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  7. Eva Marie, thank you for the wisdom expressed in this post. For me, the best I could do was respond with a quote on my blog from Dr. Martin Luther King. "When our days become dreary with low-hovering clouds of despair, and when our nights become darker than a thousand midnights, let us remember that there is a creative force in this universe ..."

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  8. Wow. This was good! Thank you for sharing these words of wisdom.

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  9. Eva, this is so good and so very true. My book, The Perils of a Pastor's Wife, was in the production line at my publishers when I learned of my husband's affair. The book is our love story in ministry and finding God's faithfulness in the midst of the fiery trials that are inevitable. I felt like there was no way I could market this book. No way! I was a broken mess. I told my publisher there was no way, and of course, he didn't agree. I was under contract. But he wisely told me to write another chapter, to take as long as I needed, but to write it so that even more women could be helped. I wrote chapter 10 four times before I got the poison out and could listen to God's gentle whispers. He taught me great lessons on forgiveness and strength and "how does this happen after 31 wonderful years together!" Chapter 10 is the chapter that resonates with my readers the most. And to this day even I glean from its wisdom because the wisdom came directly from the Lord.

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    1. Thank you for your post. Writing another chapter was the right thing to do although surely very hard. You have a great publisher.

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  10. Very well said, my friend. You have put the focus where it should be.

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