It’s a bit surreal that 9/11 was 19 years ago. I was understandably, 9 years old at the time. As such I have ‘memories’, but I assume that my childhood recollections are not exact, though I picked up on how freaked out everyone was, and remember getting home from school and sitting in front of the TV for hours as the footage played over and over again. I guess that’s why it stuck in my mind so much. I don’t know anyone who died that day or to my knowledge anyone directly affected, but it shook me watching bodies falling on the feeds. I had nightmares for years after that, and my more hallucinatory ones did call back to those images.
It makes me think about devastating events, and how as a writer you have to treat the people of your stories as human beings, even if just for empathy’s sake in the case of various other species a fantasy story might contain. Devastation on that level demands to be the focus of a story, and has to be treated in the right way as to not be flippant or dismissive of real world traumatic experiences. That’s as true for a single person tragedy as a multi thousand one. I think it’s telling that – while yes I grew up in an insular western-world – I could live in the UK my whole life and be shaken by that kind of event on another continent. It’s also telling that other tragedies that take place in the world haven’t left the same lasting impact.
I honestly don’t know if that empathy issue is one locked into my own brain, is societal, or there’s some more grounded explanation in the study of human behavior to explain why there’s a gap in perception. The Boxing Day tsunami of 2004 stuck with me in the same way, so that might be a sign media exposure and scale of tragedy lies behind it. It’s hard to pin down why events effect us, but I feel I have to get a better grasp on that if I’m to convey meaningful and compassionate stories, particularly when dealing with mass grieving.
Just something that’s been on my mind a lot today.