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How Soon After ‘Sandy’ Could You Write About Storm Damage?

Let me first say that I’m thinking of all the people who have been or will be impacted by the storm dubbed ‘Frankenstorm’ which is at this moment gathering strength off the East coast of the USA.  I was in Darwin when Cyclone Tracy hit on Christmas Day 1974 and I still clearly remember most of what happened in our house that night.  I understand the trepidation and fear of the unknown which you will be going through and I know that some of you will be traumatised by your experience.

I also know that, if you choose, you will get over this and go on to lead normal productive lives.

But, as a writer the prospects of some excellent writing is stimulating.  The main question is when is publishing a story about his event still too soon?

I think the answer really depends on what actually happens and what the story is about.  After all the news services will be doing everything they can to provide a live feed and a running commentary on this storm, probably already are.  They will have no compunction about filming and/or reporting on any tragedy they can find.  That is what they do so no author should feel that they have to be any more sensitive than the news hounds.

Having said that it will also depend on how the story is handled.  If it is seen to be just sensationalist then it may well be criticised unmercifully by the very news hounds who will cover the storm.  They will only do this as their ‘civic duty’ of course but really because they can get some additional mileage from you as well as the storm and it gives them an excuse to replay some of their footage to traumatise the victims a little further.

If the story is carefully crafted or located in an entirely different location and is seen as almost incidental to Sandy then you could publish it the next week and not cause any hardship to anyone.

If you are telling your own experience then again you could publish in the week after the storm and you would gain some sympathy and empathy from the people affected.

If you just wrote a journal about what is currently happening that too would be an acceptable immediate release.  What if you wrote a journal but left multiple pages for the reader to record their own experiences in the same book?  That might become an heirloom for your children and grand-children.

How soon?  Next week if your careful, next year if you’re not.

Think about it though, it’s an ill wind which blows nobody any good.