Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Them's the Breaks

I'm right-handed but have to write this as a lefty, so this will probably be very brief (hey, why is everyone applauding!?!).  And I'm not even sure what to write about.  At first I thought I'd detail the various (numerous) things that have gone wrong here over the past few weeks (from broken bones to a broken dehumidifier), but thought better about going there.  Why?  Well, we had a really great, renewing vacation and despite what has happened we're not wallowing in self pity, etc.  In fact, we're kind of amazed that we still feel that post-vacation 'ain't life grand' emotion.

So what does any of this have to do with nonfiction and writing?  Good question.  Let me take a stab at an answer, but everyone feel free to correct me or add comments of any sort. 

The first thing I thought about was that many/most of the people we write about (whether they're famous or not) have usually gotten our attention and admiration because they have overcome any number of annoying, unexpected, painful or depressing obstacles.   Be it George Washington, Temple Grandin, the many folks with Hansen's Disease who were hauled off as criminals to isolated areas, Civil Rights fighters (young and old), Galileo -- well, you get what I mean.  We admire that they found ways to deal with and sometimes overcome the obstacles placed in their way, often for causes bigger than themselves, and we want to bring alive and share their journeys with others.

The second thing I wondered was that maybe learning to compensate for my injury might help me to understand better some of the people I write about.  Not that I'm equating what's going on here to anyone else's struggles.  I'll put money on it that George's bad teeth hurt him much more than my elbow/wrist, and they were often the least of his troubles.  No, I'm saying that my minor challenges might help me to think about and explore theirs in more depth, or to articulate them on the page more dramatically.  Maybe it's just that as I/we get older we experience more odd, interesting, enlightening events and these act as building blocks we can use in our work, whether it's writing a book, making a school visit, or having a video-conference.  And maybe this could help young readers to 'see' the world in a broader, more inclusive way.

Must close now to get ready for yet another doctor's visit.         


Susan E. Goodman said...

Been there, Jim, so sorry. Make sure you do your physical therapy religiously.

Meanwhile, you make a very good point.

Barbara Kerley said...

Get well soon!

Cheryl Harness said...

Wow, Jim Murphy, I'm late to this particular party, but is your arm better? Your post reminded me of when an ice storm knocked out my power just when I was painting illustrations of John & Abigail Adams. It felt singularly appropriate having only frosty daylight by which to paint a picture of a woman who had to thaw her ink before beginning to write, who lived her entire life in a power outage, bless her heart.