I'm sure by now the people who read this blog will be aware of the college shootings in Virginia, USA. If not, then you need to watch the news more often and look beyond the weekly edition of Heat magazine for news information.
One thing that has emerged from this horrible event is that the gunman was part of a creative writing class. AOL has published some of his writings that have come via a fellow student. I am somewhat sceptical of the authenticity of his work, mainly because I wrote better work when I was 12. But we shall come onto that later. The comments upon the news story are revealing in themselves. One commenter says this "porn" should not be published by such a worthy source as AOL. Will this person think twice about renting a film such as Teaching Mrs Tingle or reading Stephen King's novella The Body because it contains such examples of imaginary "porn"?
So, what do these pieces of writing have to say? One features a 13 year old boy with stepfather issues and the second one is the adventures of under-age gamblers in a casino who get caught by their hated schoolteacher. First of all, the quality of these pieces is....well....shit. Take away the striking images conveyed by his word choice and you have some badly written tripe whose author is probably an extreme loner. As the America media is never tired of pointing out, we have to watch out for those ticking time bombs.
If I was at school I probably would have been labelled a 'ticking time bomb'. Why? Because my creative fiction pieces were not very far off what Cho Seung-Hui wrote. I once received the top grade in the class for a piece of work which, after numerous violent acts, ended with the protagonist being shot in the head. Several pieces of work included themes of rape, self harm, murder, torture and suicide. As far as I was aware I was never considered at risk to myself or other pupils. Not once was I referred onto any counselling or asked to attend such a thing. Out of interest, a boy in the year above me wrote an excellent short story about an ETA bombing. I wonder if his work would still be as highly praised as it was when I was at school six years ago?
Bringing this back to my original point, what benefit is examining this guy's attempt at creative writing? His description of being introverted and not wishing to be very sociable sounds like many creative writers I've met. Writing is a strictly self-centred business and you get used to being on your own. In this case all it means that in the event of this college shooting a legacy has been left behind. Some people leave internet blogs behind. Others leave suicide notes. Cho Seung-Hui left behind some badly written pieces of creative writing. On the grand scale of things; does it really matter? 32 students and professors are dead for the simple reason they turned up to class on time. Trying to create a stereotype for these kind of murders is not going to help.