Barb Caffrey's Blog

Writing the Elfyverse . . . and beyond

Archive for October 28th, 2014

A Quick Note About My Blog…

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Folks, I’ve been asked this question in the not-so-distant past:

“Barb, why do you talk about school shootings/sports/politics/current events? Why don’t you just talk about publishing, or your stories, or happy stuff?”

While I talk about my stories — and quite often — I feel a need to talk about the things that concern me. As a writer of young adult fiction in particular, school shootings hurt. I think back to my school days, which weren’t the world’s easiest, and wonder how much worse things would’ve been had someone opened fire at my high school.

Or worse yet, at my junior high. Or even at my elementary school.

While I cannot begin to understand what the people who’ve endured school shootings at Sandy Hook or Washington State have gone through, I can at least empathize with them. And I try to do that, while discussing what disturbs me so much about these atrocious, horrific events.

Now, as for why I talk about everything else? Sports — that’s easy. I love sports, always have, and it gives me a commonality with others I wouldn’t be likely to have any other way.

I mean, really. I’m a classically-trained musician with two music degrees, a good amount of performing experience (mostly with classical music, but some in other styles, mostly jazz or backing up a pop vocalist), and I write. These things set me apart from the average run-of-the-mill human being.

Yet I think there’s a lot more that I have in common with other people than not. And sports work as a metaphor for that.

Besides, I love the competition. I enjoy the intellectual struggles of the coaches, the little quirks of fate that change the outcomes of various games, and enjoy seeing players overcome all sorts of obstacles.

“But what about current events, Barb? Or most especially politics? Why must you talk about that? Surely you know that Republicans/Democrats/Independents/Martians buy books, too, and that every post you put up that’s against one of these groups is likely to alienate people?”

I talk about current events because they interest me. I try to pay attention to what happens in this life. I can’t comment on it all, no. But the important stuff, I try to say something if I can. Because being buried in an edit or working out changes in a contracted story just isn’t all that interesting for anyone who’s not actively involved in the process of writing or editing…though, granted, I’ve had various things to say about the writing process or the editing process in the past, and probably will again.

And I talk about politics because I live in the United States of America, a democratic republic. Politics are part of the deal. I may not like what happens with regards to my elected officials; in fact, most of the time I can’t stand it. But it’s up to me to watch what they’re doing in order to make the best possible voting decisions I can.

If that alienates people…well, I’m sorry, but that’s just the way it’s going to have to be. (That we’ve reached such a state in our society that people want their writers to share every last belief with them to the last jot and tittle isn’t good, to put it mildly. But we’ll save that discussion for another day.)

“But — but — happy talk, Barb! The world is so dreary and depressing as it is. Why can’t you just talk about fun stuff? Or post pictures of dogs/cats/chickadees/monkeys, etc.?”

I’m a firm believer in being who I am. And that means “happy talk” is out. (If you’re looking for that from me, you’ve really come to the wrong store.)

Now, if there are no more questions from the peanut gallery (ha!), I’d best get back to what I was doing before. (Namely, editing.)

Until soon, folks…

Written by Barb Caffrey

October 28, 2014 at 6:15 am

Washington School Shooting Leaves Many More Qs than As

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Folks, I don’t know about the rest of you, but I’m getting very tired of people being shot dead at public schools. It is despicable, it is wasteful, it is nonsensical — but most of all, it is appalling.

And it never, ever seems to end.

In the latest senseless tragedy, 15-year-old Jaylen Fryberg shot five people at his high school, Marysville Pilchuck High in Washington state, last Friday afternoon. Time magazine is reporting that Fryberg had asked all five to join him at lunch via text message.

Among those Fryberg shot were his cousins, Nate Hatch (14) and Andrew Fryberg (15), and three girls: Shaylee Chuckulnaskit (14), who remains in critical condition, Zoe Galasso (14), who died at the scene, and Gia Soriano (14), who died at a hospital on Sunday night.

As Snohomish County Sheriff Ty Trenary said in the Time article, “The question everyone wants is, ‘Why?’…I don’t know that the ‘why’ is something we can provide.”

That’s because the usual answers that come to mind about the personality of a school shooter don’t seem to apply in this case. Jaylen Fryberg wasn’t a loner, and he wasn’t bullied. Instead, he was a football player, a popular kid who’d been named Homecoming King of the freshman class, and obviously was tight with the five people he asked to join him last Friday, or they’d not have shown up at his lunch table.

Then he shot them all, before turning the gun on himself.

There are absolutely no answers that will bring back Soriano or Galasso. There are absolutely no answers that will lessen the injuries of Fryberg’s cousin Andrew, who remains in critical condition. And there aren’t any answers that will allow Hatch to heal any faster, even though Hatch is the only one who appears to be healing at all.

Even if there were answers to be had tomorrow, what then? The two young ladies are still going to be dead. The two young men and the other young lady are still going to be badly injured for no damned good reason. And the guy who did it took his own life, so there can’t even be any punishment on this plane of existence — not that there is any sufficient punishment for doing this, or ever could be.

I’ve written a number of posts in the past about other senseless shootings, and I never have understood any of them. Every time — every single time — I think to myself, “When will the killing end? Why does this keep happening?”

And I come up empty.

All I know is this: If you have children, tell them you love them. Treat them with kindness and respect. Give them guidance, nurturing, and care. Let them know that even if they feel like their world is ending over a girl (as was apparently the case with Jaylen Fryberg), this will pass — and even if it doesn’t, it’s not a justification for taking the lives of others.

Because there is no justification for what Jaylen Fryberg did, and never will be.