My affair with Tragedy

If you haven’t already noticed, I write a lot of tragic material. Most poems and stories I’ve written don’t end well. Most of the time, I start out wanting to write something fresh, happy, maybe even a love story, you know. And then before I know it, someone dies. It literally happens before I know it.

I’ve been asked a lot of times, especially by people who know me very well as the mostly happy person that I am, about my love for tragic stories and I honestly cannot explain it. Well, I can. I mean I can explain just about anything or at least I can try. That’s really what this post is about. I decided to write about it because my family members have stopped reading my short stories because they say they’re far too tragic. Well, what can a girl do?

I personally think that tragic stories are some of the most realistic, not horror tragic, but realist tragic. Remember, a story is just a portion of the character’s life. That is one of the reasons why I enjoy writing these stories. And reading them, tears, snot, anger and all. They awaken us to the lives of others around us, remind us of how blessed we are and how sheltered our lives are. True, they raise our paranoia a notch, but they remind us that we are alive and they lead us to empathy. I did not realize how good I had it in life until I read/heard some stories. These stories feel more true and real than ‘Ola meets Bisi, they fall in love and live happily ever after’. I actually cringe when I write such stories. They feel so unreal because even though people fall in love, life happens still and complicates things aka keeps things interesting.

Besides loving the reality of it, I simply enjoy scaring people, angering them, making them smile, basically evoking any form of emotion by means of my writing. I also like to shock myself as well and wonder where that came from. People (myself included) don’t like to feel. That’s what I’ve learned in the last few months. Well, we do like to feel good emotions- joy, love, peace- so much that we never want to feel pain, or sadness in any form. These aren’t good emotions. They’re not even slightly pleasant lest you think I’m a sadist but in some cases these feelings spur us to action, drive us to appreciation. I’m more grateful for food and relative security after reading about Hitler’s regime in ‘The Book Thief’ . I’m grateful for good health after reading about cancer victims in ‘The Fault in Our Stars’. I’m grateful for parents who love me and protect me after reading about a rapist father in ‘Hopeless’. and a fanatic father in ‘Purple Hibiscus’.

Then there are all the lessons I cannot even begin to enumerate that have resulted from living vicariously through all the protagonists of books I’ve read and their fictional counterparts. Feeling their pain, seeing their mistakes, loving and hating with them. Tragedy is heartbreaking, but it reminds us that we’re human, we need God and we need other humans. It reminds us to live life right because it is fleeting. It reminds us that we should appreciate all those who love us, flaws and all.

I’m still trying to write a love story that isn’t cheesy or cliché. It’s hard. But I’ll try. So bear with me and keep reading all my tragic renderings. It’s okay to be sad and cry and think about the characters for a little while.  Sometimes, good things can come out of sad stories.