Creativity in a Post 9-11 World

Posted by CODEPINK Staff

This post was written by Gayle Brandeis, CODEPINK's wordsmith.

I didn’t set out to write a post-9/11 novel. When I sat down to write during National Novel Writing Month in 2004, I just thought I was going to explore the world of storage auctions (something I had recently learned about during a conversation with a stranger on a plane; I was fascinated by all the stories that people had hidden behind the metal doors of their storage units, mysteries that would be unveiled once those units went into lien.) I don’t work with an outline, though, and when a woman in a full burqa suddenly walked onto the page, I knew I had an opportunity to explore how America has changed since the attacks of 9/11, and the heartbreaking intolerance that has invaded our culture.

My main character Flan has an opportunity to help her Afghan neighbor, and her decision has a far reaching impact on her family and community. It felt deeply meaningful for me to write Self Storage, which was published in 2007 and has since spawned many fruitful book club discussions (I love visiting book groups, and am always am curious to hear readers’ thoughts about whether they would help an Afghan neighbor if they found themselves in the same situation as Flan.)

I hope that my novel has helped readers see the world through the perspective of an Afghan woman, and maybe has helped foster more tolerance and compassion as a result. Since Self Storage came out, it has been important to me to find ways to continue this conversation and inspire further connection with the women of Afghanistan. My work with CODEPINK and the Afghan Women’s Writing Project both offer ways to get the voices of Afghan women out into the world (you can see a sample of writing from the AWWP and interviews from CODEPINK’s Afghan Women Speak Out campaign.)

As we reach the 10th anniversary of 9/11, think about what stories can you tell—fictional or real—that can help open people’s eyes and hearts. What can you create that will provide a healing antidote to war? Share your stories and creations with us.

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