You’ve heard the argument, I’m sure, regardless of where you stand on the subject. “If there is a divine and loving creator, then how the hell do you explain this mess?” It’s an odd question, however, for a writer or even devoted reader to ask. Can you imagine writing a story or reading a story without any suffering? Can you imagine a story without cruelty, or loss, or death, or disease, or corruption? In fact, it wouldn’t be a story at all. It would be one of those sterile holiday letters from a polite relative.
We love the characters we write, and yet we absolutely require them to suffer. Without the suffering, how would they learn? Without loss, how would they know love? Without slavery, how would they understand freedom? If our characters already understood freedom, love, compassion, surrender, charity, honor, and humility completely and without error, their story, for our purposes, would already be over. After all, we read these stories because we are all still seeking to learn these things.
And if we are seeking to learn them, why then should we not expect to experience what we call suffering? Why then should we expect not to know the emptiness of loneliness when we have lost sight of love? Why should we expect not to feel the cage of slavery when we have forgotten that we are already free? And if it is so for us, why not for everyone the world over?
I would not wish suffering on anyone, I would not cheer and celebrate their suffering, but I will not mourn it either, any more than I would ask someone to mourn mine. To mourn it would be to call life cruel and random and indifferent, when in fact the exact opposite appears true. Life only wants for me what I want for myself, and so it speaks in the only language available, a language I have learned slowly over the years to translate into the story of my life.
Write Within Yourself: An Author's Companion. "A book to keep nearby whenever your writer's spirit needs feeding." Deb Caletti.