Plates shift, earthquakes rumble and oceans roil…all natural events over which we have no control. The human and economic toll in Japan presents us with a shocking example of how we’ve failed to predict and prepare for the effects of natural disasters. The event reminds us, once again, that control is an illusion.
For those of us who write, the concept of control is a common theme and focus of conflict for our characters. Our heroes and heroines struggle for power over their destinies, even as nature, social/government groups, both big and small and individuals throw new challenges in their paths.
In fact, as writers, we ramp up conflict in order to test our characters as well as to build their strengths. Once our stories end, with growth arcs complete and couples bound solidly to one another, we’ve created men and women who are prepared to handle any conflagration, natural or unnatural.
But plate shifts, big earthquakes and tsunamis? I don’t know.Some are saying that the Sendai earthquake was the worst tragedy to befall Japan since World War II. When we see how Japan pulled itself, phoenix-like, out of the horror of World War II, we have to take heart. They are tougher, smarter and more unified because of the challenges they’ve faced before. Like the fiction characters at our story’s end, the Japanese will handle this crisis and move ahead, stronger than ever.