Well, here I am putting a deeply personal essay here for all the world to see, and it feels a little dangerous.
Some of my writer friends, especially those writing memoir, essays, and all manner of creative nonfiction, will understand what I’m talking about.
The Gun Show appeared in print in The Southeast Review in 2016, and I suspected then that a finite number of readers would ever see it. In fact, I was depending on it. I wasn’t sure that I wanted this story online; it directly addresses gun violence and personal, familial, and community trauma. I have now spent a decade trying to understand what happened back then and who we all were and what it meant, and all along, to write it, branching out all over the place, much like our continual national reckoning with the place of guns in our lives.
For most of the past decade, sitting down to work on this story has transported me down a long, dark tunnel, back to my 12-year-old shaking, uncertain self. And there’s a part of me that will always be that 12-year-old girl watching her father holding their dying neighbor in his arms.
But I am also no longer 12 years old. There are people dying senselessly every day from gun violence in this country, and the time has come for me to more actively use the privilege I’ve been given, and to raise the voice I’ve been blessed with, to help put an end to it.