There are times, and this one is as big as that abyss that opened up in 2016, that I have no words. Or more probably, I’m afraid to speak because if I did, the rage would just never stop coming.
I’m grateful that when I can’t find the words to express my own overpowering emotion, there’s always an author, or poet, or musician, who can.
Listing the precise things about this atrocity that Margaret Atwood nailed in her classic The Handmaid’s Tale would mean posting the entire book.
But this was the scene that came instantly and vividly into my mind:
By the time Luke came home I was sitting at the kitchen table. My daughter was drawing with felt pens at her own little table, where her paintings were taped up next to the refrigerator. Luke knelt beside me and put his arms around me.
I heard, he said, on the car radio, driving home. Don’t worry. I’m sure it’s temporary.
Did they say why? I said.
He didn’t answer that. We’ll get through it, he said, hugging me.
You don’t know what it’s like. I feel like someone cut off my feet. I wasn’t crying. Also, I couldn’t put my arms around him.
He was still kneeling on the floor. You know I’ll always take care of you.
I thought, already he’s starting to patronize me. Then I thought, already you’re starting to get paranoid.
I know, I said. I love you…
Then I remembered something I’d seen that afternoon and hadn’t noticed at the time.
The army. It wasn’t the army. It was some other army.
From Chapter 28, The Handmaid’s Tale, by Margaret Atwood
At times like these—and after decades and decades of at least gradual progress toward a more equitable society, it is frightening how many times like these there are—I don’t reach for comfort reads, or binge on mindless television. I need the rage of great artists. I want the cold, precise portrayal of the evil it takes for a zealot minority, including two credibly accused sexual predators, to eliminate the bled-for, died-for rights of a majority of the population, with those of numerous other populations next on the chopping block.
I’ll be watching movies like Spotlight, to vicariously experience the true-life work of dedicated writers against a monolithic patriarchal evil.
I’ll read Atwood’s The Testaments, and start from the beginning and re-read my way throughToni Morrison.
For historical context and analysis I am grateful for the almost daily missives from the awesome Heather Cox Richardson, whose phenomenal Letters from an American you can subscribe to here on Substack:
And to counter the privileged ignorance of those carrying signs smirking “I am the post-Roe generation” I will read and reread Amanda Gorman, and rewatch and rewatch this:
Today I’m taking the day to post resources and action suggestions on my Facebook page.
And tomorrow I’m going back to my book, in which I continue my F--- you to anyone who says writers shouldn’t write about politics. The only people I’ve ever heard that from is people who pretend they’re not being political when they tell me I can’t be.
All writing is political.
Rage. Rest. And then write your heart out.
Need some help? The Screenwriting Tricks for Authors workshop is now available online, as a self-paced course with all the videos, assignments, movie breakdowns and personalized feedback you need to get that book written this year. In four parts, and you only pay for what you use.
Small group coaching also available in The Writers’ Room.
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