That Day in September by Artie Van Why
We all have our stories to tell of where we were the morning of September 11, 2001. This is one of them. In ‘That Day In September’ Artie Van Why gives an eyewitness account of that fateful morning. From the moment he heard ‘a loud boom’ in his office across from the World Trade Centre, to stepping out onto the street, Artie vividly transports the reader back to the day that changed our lives and our country forever. “That Day in September” takes you beyond the events of that morning. By sharing his thoughts, fears and hopes, Artie expresses what it was like to be inNew York Cityin the weeks and months following.
Everyone has their own memories of that day in September, but this writer manages, very poetically, to put his impressions and feelings into this novella in a way that will touch your heart. The background of his own life is well portrayed and in just enough detail to let us get to know him as a person. He overcame a few major obstacles and his hopes and dreams seemed to be on hold when this tragedy happened. Not only did it shock and distress him, it made him take stock of his life and begin to travel in a new direction. I was surprised by the fact that he could not watch the television coverage as this was one thing that brought millions of people to the reality of what had happened by seeing that morning over and over again. Being inEnglandat the time I watched the news constantly, moving from one channel to the next till I could not cry anymore, but I do understand now that being there on the street was enough reality to last a lifetime.
The use of language in the story was excellent, not over-dramatised or gory and brought me to tears a few times. Van Why said ofNew York, that ‘it had a breath of its own,’ which I think many New Yorkers, would agree with, it is a unique place.
In describing the emotional aftermath he pins down the daily trauma perfectly when he says that things only seemed normal;
‘ …in the brief second when waking up when the mind is still a bit unfocussed,’ I’m sure anyone who has suffered any tragedy or loss can relate to that few moments of peace before the memories slam back again.
This is a short but thoughtful read and I have no problem recommending it as a witness report and personal impression of that day in September.
Artie Van Why, playwright and author of “That Day In September”
Q. When did you start writing and what made you start?
A. The morning after 9/11 I woke up and finally listened to all the voice messages I had on my machine and read all the emails that had been sent to me; everyone wanting to know if I was okay. I knew I could never answer everyone so I sat at my computer to write a brief email to friends and family letting them know that I was, indeed, okay… and alive.
When I started typing I just started pouring out in written words what it was I had witnessed the morning before. That was the first time I “told my story” in any form. I sent out the email and heard back from people thanking me for sharing what it was like to be in NYC. They all encouraged me to keep writing about it… and I did.
Q. Are there any writers that have influenced you?
A. I have a great respect for writers of memoirs.
Q. Has your work been rejected by any publishers?
A. Yes. Heard often the “there’s already enough about 9/11 out there”. That is why I ended up self-publishing.
Q. How do you discipline yourself to write and what support do you have?
A. I write when I have something I need to say. I’ve written quite a few blog pieces; mostly about my life after 9/11.
Q. How do you write, paper and pen, pencil, straight to computer, tape recorder etc.?
A. Typing on the computer.
Q. Are there issues in your private life that have an influence on your writing?
A. Well of course it was witnessing and surviving 9/11 that got me writing.
Q. How important do you rate punctuation?
A. Very important. That is why I hired a proof reader.
Q. How do you feel having published, are you ready for more?
A. I certainly believe there is now more of my story to tell… about living with PTSD and moving on with life after trauma or tragedy.
Q. Have you any tips for budding writers?
A. Write because you have something you want to say.
Q. How important are your marketing methods?
A. They are limited. With no big publishing house behind me I do it all on my own and that can be too expensive most of the time. I just finally was able to create a website of my own (www.artievanwhy.com)
Q. Can you see any of your work being made into a film or television series?
A. I think “That Day In September” would work well as a movie because it tells the story of our country’s most recent tragic day through one set of eyes.
Q. What do you think of the big publishing houses who don’t give new writers a chance?
A. The way the film industry provides a means for independent films, I wish publishers would do the same.
Q. Do you think the day of the publishing business is coming to an end, and self publishing becoming more popular?
A. I definitely think self-publishing is making its mark, slowly but surely… Again, similar to independent films.
Q. Tell us a little about your next work I should read.
A. It will be, as I mentioned above, the more complex story of how one lives their life after trauma or tragedy .