Images in the news and current events move us almost like planetary forces. When we see images like those that are coming out of Israel of rockets bombarding cities, hostages spirited away on motorcycles, fences bulldozes, houses razed, and families brutally slaughtered, we are rightly overwhelmed with emotion.
As writers and creators we feel somehow it's our job to respond to earth-shaking events, no matter how morally inexplicable or horrendous they may be.
We should feel this way. And it is our our job to respond as artists. But what I want you to consider today is how to respond to mind-shattering current events. And since the topic is so huge and important, I'm only going to make a single suggestion, but it's a pretty important one.
Avoid the urge to be "epic." Sure, you can write a 500+ line poem or three-book series on the abduction of Noa Argamani by Hamas terrorists, but the odds greatly favor that your epic will fall flat. I've no doubt that the event will inspire someone to write a successful epic, but it probably isn't me or you.
Instead, what we can do is use the image of her abduction, the feeling of it to inspire smaller, heart-first responses. I could cite any number of examples here, but I'm going to just use a single poem. The poem is by Yeats and it's called "Easter, 1916."
This poem grapples with many personal and political themes, but it never loses its touch of personal intimacy.
Without that touch anything you write about contemporary events will tend to gravitate toward editorializing, then degenerate to opinion, and finally collapse into some form of jingoism.
What you bring to the table as an artist is the touch of intimacy the rest of the world seems to often lack. You're the heartbeat, the conscience, and the soul in a world that often seems heartless and soulless. So engage with current events, but do it with artistry.
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