Writing is like an earthquake, a force of nature to be reckoned with. At least, that is my greatest hope and fear. Once the imagination starts shaking and spouting out words, who knows how many casualties there will be? Mountains climb out of the ocean or are wrinkled into crags. Dinosaurs rise from the dead, pterodactyls soar in the sky. Dust hides the sun. Volcanoes erupt where none existed before. Archipelagos join into continents, and landmass breaks into islands. Writing is creative and dangerous. Life changing, world shaping. Think of Marx, Rousseau, Hitler, the romantic poets, Mary Wollstonecraft, Harriet Beecher Stowe.
One of my friends from middle school is a geologist, and he once said to me: “Sigal, I hope for your sake that you won’t be in California when the Big One strikes.” “Will it be that bad?” I inquired. “Oh yes,” he responded with the avidity of a true scientist. “It’s going to be bad.”
We live in an area that is criss-crossed by so many faults! Looking at a google earth map of the Bay Area boggles my mind. What will really happen when that Big One strikes? And what if California becomes separated from the rest of the U.S., and floats out to sea to join Hawaii? Little earthquakes rumble along our fault lines every day, relieving, possibly, some of the pressure, but according to the USGS website, they are not enough to prevent the Big One from coming. Of course, according to the USGS website, it’s alse fiction that California will one day fall into the ocean.
Like the earth crust, in order to relieve the pressure in my writing fault lines, I write these blogs, little foreshocks to the Big One that is yet to come. It’s a lot of fun, but it’s not enough. The blog teaches me how much I long to interact with my audience, how much I want to be read. It is giving me a creative outlet for my thoughts, feelings, worries. But I want more. The tension in me grows strong. A novel needs to be born out of the lava and the rocks, the heat and the gems, the layers of millions of years of geological activity.
So exciting! Painful, hard, strange. Dangerous, too, of course. Risky. And yet other people do it every day. If there’s one thing I know, it’s that I’m not alone. Just here in the Bay Area are thousands of writers, poets, journalists, columnists, bloggers. Like the fault line spread all over California, so are fault lines and writers found everywhere in the world. I am not alone. The danger not only mine. But the power to shape the world is divided among all of us perhaps unequally, and the responsibility to use it wisely given to each of us on our own.
Yet I feel some relief. Now maybe, I can sit down and write. I won’t cause an earthquake, or turn the world upside down. After all, I’m just writing a fairy tale, a fantasy, for fun.