I wanted to write about this last week, but I couldn't quite express how I felt at the time. Now, with a few days having passed, I'll give it a try.
When, in the aftermath of the Boston bombings, I heard that a young child was among the victims, it hurt. When I heard a name and an age, it hurt more. But nothing could prepare me for the picture.
You know the one. That beautiful child, Martin Richard, proudly holding the sign he made that now tells the entire world "No More Hurting People. Peace."
It broke my heart. I'm certain you felt the same way.
As the shock, the sorrow and the anger abated a bit, I realized something:
This is why we write for children.
There is a world filled with Martins waiting to be touched with our words. For them, the thought of a world without hate, without violence, without senseless killing isn't an abstract notion for "some time way in the future". It's real. And there's no reason we shouldn't have it right now.
For goodness sake, someone has to tell them they're right, and the adults they see on the news are the ones who are crazy.
Families need to tell them that. Teachers have to tell them that. And, I know in my heart, children's writers need to tell them that.
I know we all tend to obsess over rejection letters, and getting our apps published and having Facebookers "like" our pages. And yes, those things are important. But maybe it's time to take a step back and remember why we're really doing all this.
It's Martin. And kids just like him.
Carry on this beautiful young man's message, and help his words reach other children across the globe.
Because that's why we do this.