When Our Words Seem Trite

by Eleanor Parker Sapia

Despite many attempts last month, I found it difficult to write, especially about writing. Every word seemed trite and nothing I said seemed relevant in light of the terror and chaos caused by recent crimes of hatred and acts of terrorism at home and abroad.

In desperation, I decided it was time to take a break. Not a break from writing my second book—that keeps me sane—no, I decided to take a break from social media and blogging, until such time that our world becomes a more peaceful place to live. My thoughts were muddied by too much chaos, heartache, and uncertainty.

Then I thought, wait a minute…that peace might take a long, long time.

Last night I read a heart-tugging article in The Nation by Pulitzer Prize-winning author Toni Morrison, published last year. One quote in particular spoke to what I was facing and seemed entirely relevant to the madness we’re experiencing today.

“I know the world is bruised and bleeding, and though it is important not to ignore its pain, it is also critical to refuse to succumb to its malevolence. Like failure, chaos contains information that can lead to knowledge—even wisdom. Like art.”  – Toni Morrison

I was indeed in danger of succumbing to the malevolence by remaining silent after the attacks in Paris, Brussels, and Turkey. I admit the joy I’d experienced with my work in progress waned after the murders in Orlando, Baton Rouge. and Dallas. It was all too much. I was worried all the time. I feared for the safety of the protesters on both camps, and for the protests that would surely continue. I was living with anxiety, worry, and in constant fear for my children. I was emotionally drained. I’d reached my limit.

What did Ms. Morrison mean by chaos containing information that can lead to knowledge? Was she saying that like peeling an onion back layer upon layer, we’d get to the very core of the problems in our country? I think so. Only when we know and acknowledge the very real problems and challenges we face as a society can we open lines of communication and begin to heal. That made a lot of sense.

Last night, I realized I need to continue creating art despite the chaos and madness around me, in honor of the writers, journalists, and artists who are silenced and imprisoned around the world, because I can.

Happy writing to you.


Puerto Rican-born novelist Eleanor Parker Sapia was raised in the United States, Puerto Rico, and Europe. Eleanor’s life experiences as a counselor, alternative health practitioner, a Spanish language social worker, and a refugee case worker inspire her passion for writing. When Eleanor is not writing, she facilitates creativity groups and is making plans to walk El Camino de Santiago a second time.

A Decent Woman, Eleanor’s bestselling historical novel, is the July 2015 Book of the Month selection for the national organization Las Comadres & Friends Book Club. It is described as “…a true work of historical depth and artistry.” Eleanor has two adventurous, grown children and currently lives in wild and wonderful West Virginia.

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