Thursday, June 12, 2008

When the Laughs Don't Come Easy


I love to laugh. In fact, laughter is as necessary to me as breathing. But there’s not much to smile about for Midwesterners like me this morning. I don’t know if you’ve heard, but Iowa, Wisconsin, Indiana and other Midwestern states are experiencing record flooding. In fact, Iowa’s governor stated that some areas of the state are facing a five hundred year flood. I believe it. Many of us in the nation’s mid-section feel like we know how Noah felt during those forty days and forty nights of rain. Well, maybe I’m exaggerating the actual duration of our precipitation event, but it sure feels like it’s been ages since the skies were clear and the sun shined for an extended period of time.
It’s getting tougher to laugh.
Following a horribly long, wet winter, we’ve been hit hard by a cool, wet spring characterized by record numbers of tornadoes. One such storm almost leveled the small community of Parkersburg two weeks ago killing eight.
Even harder to laugh.
Last night I left my night class to drive home and turned on the radio to find out yet another tornado had hit the state, this one dropping into a boy scout camp located in western Iowa literally obliterating the camp. Four scouts were killed and forty other people were injured.
Almost impossible to laugh.
And the rain continues. In areas that can’t hold any more water, heavy rain falls. I spent the night checking the basement to make sure it remained dry and watching the ceiling begin to leak.
Laughter’s a pipedream.
With so many folks in such bad shape across my state, those who’ve lost a loved one or those who’ve lost a home filled with treasures and keepsakes, you begin to believe that smiles and grins and chuckles and laughs may be a long time in coming.
How, I ask myself, can I sit down and write humor today of all days? How can I be funny when I feel so sad? When so many of my fellow citizens are hurting?
And then I recall the emails and letters I’ve received from readers. Like the one from the woman with cancer who found joy in the misadventures of a lovable, albeit sometimes ditzy, blonde. Or the one from the hospice nurse who thanked me for writing books she could lose herself in after a particularly long, hard shift. Or the email from the woman going through a divorce and the incumbent tough times who surprised even herself by laughing out loud as she read one of my books.
That’s when I remind myself that our books make a difference--a real difference in the lives of our readers. Our stories let folks put their troubles and grief aside for a moment and escape into another world for a tiny slice of time. Our stories give hope and reassurance and permit readers to believe in happy endings. Even when their reality is far from happy.
So, I’ll plant my butt in my chair and write. Because that’s my job. That's what I do. And each word I type will be dedicated to all those who find themselves going through hard times in the hope that what I write can bring a smile to a face that badly needs one.
Writers write. That's what we do.
Iowans persevere. That's what they do.
~Bullet Hole~

9 comments:

Christie Craig said...

Wow!

Great post!

Crime Scene Christie

Keri Ford said...

The tornados have been bad this year and last I heard, they were expecting a hard hurricane season. You have good motivation for getting behind the keyboard.

Tori Lennox said...

*hugs* and prayers for all you Iowans.

Beth said...

My dad was born in Clinton Iowa and still talks about the floods there (there are some great black & white photos from the 50's). I feel for you. Our governor just declared a drought in CA. Too bad we can't find a way to funnel all that water away from the midwest to CA so there won't be any floods.
Oh, so sad about the boy scouts. I couldn't help but think of my own sons as I watched the news. My thoughts and prayers are with you. And keep the laughs coming.

Kathy Bacus said...

Thanks, Christie. And you're right, Keri, this has been one of the worst seasons in recent years for tornadoes. I certainly hope this isn't indicative of the way the hurricane season is going to be.

Good news! It FINALLY stopped raining here. At least for the moment...

~Bullet Hole~

Kathy Bacus said...

Thanks, Tori.

Sounds like things are worse in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, east of here. It's got me wondering how things are where Les 'The Assassin' Langtry resides.

Isn't that just the way it goes? We can't turn the faucet off here, Beth, and in your neck of the woods, you can't turn it on. It sounds as if several areas of the west and southwest are hurting for rain. Wish we could export some of our excess moisture.

We had historic flooding in '93 and our capitol city lost their water supply for 22 days. Thanks to a lot of improvements, this flood hasn't been as costly as it might have been. Still so many areas were unprotected and are now underwater. What should be of concern to all Americans is the fact that a significant percentage of Iowa's corn crop is in jeopardy as a result of flooding. We're a leading corn producing state and if the farmers are hurting, everyone hurts. Especially when they visit the grocery store.

Little Mary Sunshine, aren't I?

~Bullet Hole~

Gemma Halliday said...

That was a beautiful post. I've got tears in my eyes, girl.

I've been thinking about you and Leslie! Glad to hear you're safe and we're all hoping the weather gods give you mid-country people a break.

~Gemma

Kathy Bacus said...

Didn't know I could wax so poetic, did you, Gemma?

Seriously, seeing the indomitable spirit of fellow citizens during such challenging times is truly an inspiration.

~Bullet Hole~

terrio said...

This is a beautiful post, Kathy. I was a DJ back on 9/11 and I remember having to be upbeat and light a couple days after when we went back to regular programming. It wasn't easy but my job was to make people feel better and maybe forget the bad stuff for a little while. As they say, the show must go on. And show must the writing.

Thanks for all the smiles. I'm sending dry prayers your way.