Have you ever caught yourself ranting about a topic that you didn’t think you felt strongly about? I have. (Not about last week’s post; I’ve been stewing in that topic for a while. Don’t silence the writers!)
Did you stop yourself mid-rant, or blunder ahead, full of piss and vinegar? Did you observe yourself? Take notes, mentally or physically? Observe others and their reactions? Did it spark story ideas? (I am SO putting this jerk in my next book!)
Since this blog is mostly about my painful and exhilarating journey through writing and self-publishing, I’m assuming most of you are writers of some type. It’s fairly common for writers to observe the world around them. Some of us even use ourselves as guinea pigs, just for the chance to observe life from the inside. I’m not sure if that’s a sane choice, but writers are not known for their sanity. Our working conditions make us the mad hatters of the modern world.
A lot of people use food to self soothe after a trauma. (Show me on the taco where your feelings were hurt.) Some people use mind altering substances, both the legal and illegal types. (I don’t have a joke for that; the results are too depressing.) People also use therapy, in the form of a friend’s shoulder or even a professional shoulder. (Would ‘Professional Shoulder’ look good on a business card?)
Writers use those techniques, too, but I find the most soothing thing is to write about trauma. We go where the discomfort is and prod it, because that’s where the best stories hide. Written inside out and upside down, taken apart, put back together, then stuffed into a ill fitting costume. Then I let it go. Frankenstein’s monster lurches down to the village, once again, making everyone uncomfortable. (He sits at your table, even when there are plenty of empty tables in the coffeehouse. Or something.)
I believe that is a writer’s job, to help us see other points of view. Entertain us, yes! But also teach us something about the world. Something we haven’t considered before. Open our minds. Give us something to believe in, or show us something we feverently hope will never come to pass. Story telling shouldn’t be safe. Help us find our boundaries, our line in the sand. True north on our moral compass. Help us to find a place to stand firm, where we can say, “No. You move.” (Can you guess my favorite superhero?)
I’ve been adding people to my Facebook page–writers mostly–and not often those I agree with. At this point in an election year, I would normally be nose down in books, avoiding commercials and social media like it’s… well, anything related to politics and socializing. Instead, I’m sponging it up, spongingly spongelike, yellow and absorbent, bits of the scrubby pad wearing off, and starting to smell a bit. It’s been educational. In some posts the tiniest disagreement on syntax can start a flame war, accruing hundreds of hateful comments, while the actual topic gets ignored. Other posts are a think-tank, with ideas and disagreements being examined rationally and with great thought. Most posts–of course–fall somewhere in between.
Is there a point to this blog? Perhaps it’s just a continuation of last week’s rant. Perhaps I’m filling the space, avoiding that future post about helpful grammar books. Perhaps I should take a chance and post one of those uncomfortable Franken-fiction stories. I’m not sure. I think I’m just squeezing out a bit of the excess moisture.
Happy writing, and don’t be silenced!