The Great Conflict
I was recently asked to be a part of a short-story anthology featuring the National Parks. While I can't say more about that project at the moment, I can say my time walking the battlefields of Gettysburg for research changed the way I view conflict both in writing and in life.
Washington D.C. is an incredible place for history nerds like myself. The National Mall is brimming with museums each brimming with artifacts. All of this knowledge is the home of the capitol building, the Library of Congress, and a host of memorials and monuments. Every person immortalized in these buildings and monuments have one thing in common: Conflict.
I'll spare you a refresher course in US History. You don't need me to explain that the Civil Right Movement was hard (and is still ongoing), that the wars we've fought in our nation's short history changed the shape of the world at the cost of much bloodshed, and that our nation's very existence was the product of conflict.
Washington D.C. is a monument to conflict. We revere the men and women who sacrificed so much so that we can enjoy the freedoms we do today. We honor them in stone and literally place them on a pedestal. We are right to do so.
My husband and I rented bikes to ride through the all of the monuments one evening while in D.C. It's a fantastic way to see the capital, the white house, and the glowing memorials at night. But as I looked out at the Washington Monument, the Jefferson and Lincoln Memorial, as we read the inspired words of Dr. King and the names on the Vietnam Memorial Wall, I saw the story of our nation through the eyes of a writer and recognized that conflict made all of this incredible history possible. Without it, there would be no story at all.
There is a lesson here for those of us who create:
All good stories require strong conflict.
Conflict can't exist if there is no consequence for failure.
Heroes are often ordinary people who do extraordinary things.
Ordinary people are inherently flawed. They often work with limited perspective. But even though the risk of failure is great, heroes ACT in spite of fear of failure for the sake of the greater good.
I know I missed Veteran's Day by a day, but I'm grateful for those who have willingly thrown themselves into conflict for my sake. You're story is beautiful. Thank you.