A few weeks ago, I was with some friends on a Friday evening when the sky turned an eerie green color and the tornado sirens began to blow. Since we were on the first floor of a condo with no basement and only a small interior closet, we began to joke about who could get into the safe place first if the twister really hit.
Two gals there were medical professionals, a physicians’ assistant and a medical student; they were instantly afforded a spot in the closet. Then they chose the electrician among us, followed by the teachers — someone has to teach the children, you know. We went further and further down the food chain until we got to me, the only writer. It was universally agreed by my friends that I had no skills that would help out in a disaster. I was voted off the island.
I tried to convince them that I am scrappy, able to carry fire wood and cooking water. Plus I can whittle a little. But my way with words only made things worse. In a crisis, only people with real skills could be of use (I have to chuckle now as I think of Napoleon Dynamite and all of his skills! I don’t think there would be a place in the closet for him either!).
These thoughts were going through my head as I walked around the campus of Calvin College last week, attending their bi-annual Festival of Faith and Writing. Thankfully no natural disasters occurred to put my friends’ opinions of writers to the test. But still, I couldn’t help but wonder: do we writers really have anything to contribute? Especially since our modern lives feel like they all are lead on the edge of disaster.
You would think that a writer would have put a lot of thought into that question already, that I’d have a ready answer for you here now. But the truth is, I wake up at night sometimes with this question in my heart.
I said in an earlier blog that words matter, and I believe that. I know my life is different from having read many great authors. But whether I, an individual writer of words, really make a difference is still a question in my mind. And maybe keeping the question at the forefront every time I write makes an affirmative answer more possible. Just putting the words on paper doesn’t provide any guarantees, though.
In the meantime, I think I’ll use my writing ability to come up with a good marketing tool for all my other skills. I want a spot in the closet next time.