There are exactly two terrifying things about a well-written article.
The first is that it could change the world. It could change the way humans see themselves, their surroundings, their world. We’ve heard about the pictures worth a thousand words; well, perhaps there are words out there worth a thousand pictures. If you write well enough, maybe those words could be yours.
The second terrifying thing about a well-written article is that it could change nothing.
It is entirely likely that you, as a writer and as an intelligent and reasonably ethical observer, will witness events that are both devastating and fixable.
The reasonably ethical portion of your character will understand that, if these events are fixable, it is incumbent upon you to in fact fix them.
The writer portion of your character will say – “I know what to do!”
And so you will pour life onto the page. You will research facts and you will research feelings; you will seek to understand inevitabilities and to put a face on the numinous, the grotesque, and the fine line between human and inhumane.
You will create a piece of life for your readers that they can live without living. It will be better arranged and more comprehensible than anything they could ever hope to experience for themselves. It will have meaning, it will have a clear call to action. It will even have an outcome. All this in, say, a thousand words, plus a few photos. What more could they need?
Let’s leave that question for a moment. What more, my reasonably-ethical writer friend, could you need?
To see the world change? To see a fix, a heal, a mend across the break?
Or do you want upheaval and transformation? Perhaps a revolution here and there, peaceful of course, or perhaps not. It depends on the day. Perhaps you want levees that don’t fail; perhaps you want forests that don’t become firewood. Perhaps you just want to show a portrait or memoir, so a life is respected.
Write in service of life and all its demands, but know thyself. In your world, you are the one with the most to lose by disappointment or expectation. Write, and let go; write again, let go again. Keep moving. Understand you will lose pieces of yourself. Create new pieces to take the place.
As to the readers – I wish I knew what else they needed. If you know, please tell me. Or not; it may be better not to know.
But don’t stop writing.