On Deadlines, the News, and Why Romance Still Matters

I have a book due in twelve days.

I’m on my fifth revision, and I’m not finished yet. I’ve thrown my back out from being hunched over the computer ten hours a day, had more panic attacks, and eaten more chocolate than I care to admit. And all that seems so meaningless, so trivial, when I turn on the news and discover that a five-year-old boy was killed not far from where I live yesterday.

Accidental strangulation. At the hands of his 19-year-old cousin. While his twin sister apparently was nearby.

I can’t speculate on why something like this would happen. For some, it seems even more awful because we’re days away from Christmas. I was raised Jewish, so that aspect doesn’t affect me as much. But as a sexual assault survivor and PTSD sufferer who also found her roommate dead, stuff like this hits home.


It’s difficult to explain what it’s like coming home and discovering the body of someone you care about, knowing only you held the other set of keys. That you were the only one who could have come home at the right time and prevented something awful from happening. That in his last moments, he might have been praying for me to do exactly that.

The guilt still has the power to choke me, thirteen years later.

It too often makes me look at tragic stories like the one of this five-year-old boy’s and wonder about his last moments. The panic, the fear, wondering if anyone would be coming to save him.

It’s because of this that I don’t watch or read the news much. I simply can’t. North Korean cyber terrorists. Pakistani children killed in school. Bill Cosby a possible rapist. Police brutality. Animal cruelty. ISIS.

I am too easily triggered.

And because of that, I freely admit to sticking my head in the sand. I hide in books about sex and love and romance, because peeking my head up out of that sandbox brings on another kind of guilt. The kind that makes me feel so completely, utterly powerless. The kind that makes me look at what I do for a living, and see it as completely and entirely insignificant.

It’s time like this that I’m thankful for the people who love me. For my parents, who didn’t blink when I told them what I was stealthily writing in between work and the gym, and saying ‘What, you think we never heard of sex before?’ For my friends, both the ones I’ve found through online connections and the ones I’ve known for years, because they listen to me. Pick me up. Cheer me on. For my husband, who knew I’d thrown my back out and was triggered by this little boy’s story tonight, and said go work on your book, honey. I’ll make dinner.

Friends. Family. Love. They’re the only things that make hearing the terrible stories that get reported every day a little bit easier to bear.

So I guess maybe what I do isn’t so meaningless. We need these stories in our lives, because it reminds us of what’s good out there. That despite everything, romance still matters.

And hopefully, in the next twelve days, I’ll be able to finish a story that will matter, too.

Happy holidays, everyone.

Speak Your Mind