18 April 2010

Writing Tragedy and Hope

Easy reading is damn hard writing.
~ Nathanial Hawthorne

Lately my writers group has been unable to meet due to distance and schedules. So we assigned each other writing assignments via email. Mine was to imagine a conversation between the late Polish President Lech Kaczynski and a relative of one of the Katyn Forest Massacre victims as they flew to Smolensk April 10, 2010. I am almost at 2,000 words into the project and I agree wholeheartedly with Mr. Hawthorne.

This assignment is both difficult and a joy. The Katyn Forest Massacre has always captured my imagination and inspired great emotion ~ as has most of Poland's history. And not just because my father is Polish. It is a history rife with suffering and tragedy and the sheer stubborn will to survive. When I heard about the plane crash on Saturday, April 10, my first reaction was of fascinated horror. Good God! How much suffering can one nation endure? And the irony of the "accident" ~ Polish dignitaries dying on the way to a memorial service for murdered Polish dignitaries from 1940 ~ was not lost on anyone with a knowledge of history.

In doing this writing assignment, I found that I had to fight to keep a certain distance from it. Personal emotions kept blurring the lines ~ literally. It is difficult to type while wiping one's eyes and blowing one's nose. But the emotions and thoughts about this latest tragedy are nothing compared to my other writing project: an intimate story based on my father's experiences during the Nazi occupation of Poland in the 1940s and his time spent in a labor camp in Germany and his subsequent liberation.

This project is born of a deep love and admiration of my father, and the desire to share with others what a great man he is. And writing about the Katyn Memorial plane crash helped to open up some literary and emotional obstacles that were making writing my father's story difficult. God willing I will be able to complete this second project in time for him to read it.

May God be with the Poles during this time of great mourning. St. Stefan, ora pro nobis! St. Vladimir, ora pro nobis!

Oremus pro invicem,
~ Mikaela
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