Our Job as Writers

Elections have come and gone, and we are left with a fragile, deeply divided, uncertain society. We are standing, sightless, in a haze left over from cruel barbs and blame. A noxious haze clogging our moral center, clouding the core issues. Every day for months past. Fury. Bitterness. Ugliness. Now, half of our country is entrenched in shock, while the other half is satisfied, gleeful.

How does a country move forward with such a discordant gap in beliefs?

I am pretty cynical when it comes to politics, Democrat, Republican, Tea, Coffee, you name it. I don’t believe that any one party can do the job of leading the country consistently better than another.

When I take sides, I side with our planet. When I vote, I vote for our planet. Its health. Its longevity. Its gifts and wonders.

 

I vote for the women and men who have shown they care about and are willing to work at preserving our home, because without a home that works efficiently, there won’t be an economy or war or walls or healthcare to debate.

Most of the leaders of today aren’t my top pick. I don’t have a heck of a lot of faith they will heal this country. I worry about the poor communication lines, the self-serving choices, the narrow fields of vision.

I am in mourning. I cry for what will happen to our planet in the years ahead. I cry for the thousands upon thousands of people who could lose their lives in their brave attempts to seek safety and freedom. I cry for those whose rights may be trampled upon. I cry for the voices that long to speak up but don’t know how, or can’t.

My initial goal as a writer was fairly simple: to write the stories that keep me up at night, that rummage through my soul all day. Writing has always been a calling for me, something I could never successfully shake. Like the stray dog you try to leave at the shelter but leaps over the chain-link fence and chases you down Route 4. Writing always finds me, even when I feel like I can’t possibly do it justice.

Over the past few years, that goal has reshaped, partly organically, partly through my own vision and awareness and growth. I came to see a writer’s job as something more than creating nether worlds. That calling that used to be all about words that entertain, had morphed into something a bit deeper, a bit daunting. Something that asked more of me.

And then, last week happened. The calling is no longer a calling. A mission, perhaps. A deal with the devil, even, or maybe just a really bad-ass angel. A chance to speak up. A dare to put myself to the test.

I am a writer who has been deeply affected by the turn of events over the last week. I have much to say, but in the midst of this uncertainty and fear and raucous celebration, my words seem like the weight of a single raindrop and just as thirst-quenching.

I know that words can make a difference. But in extreme cases, words aren’t enough on their own. Sometimes, we have to stand behind them and act on their behalf. A perfect example of show, don’t tell. It is a writer’s duty to use words, stories, messages to connect people. But I believe, now more than ever, that duty doesn’t stop there.

Writer...Uninterrupted-A Handbook for the Confident Writer

I believe a writer’s job is to make a difference. I don’t mean just politically, but in any area a writer holds strong beliefs. Writers are the motivators, the entertainers, the teachers of their own audience. Writers are a voice for many, and with that power comes huge responsibility.

We must look ahead to find the best path of communication. Fuel good intentions while genuinely listening to the other side. We must write hard and passionately in what we believe. To reach the outskirts of our audience and beyond, write with truth, grace, depth, courage, ferocity, knowledge, fairness. A good writer is not still or quiet or absent. We must question, comprehend, break down the crux of experiences so that we can share it with others—to further equality, peace, health, safety, respect, love.

As writers, holding back, staying down—not an option. As writers, writing nothing—not an option. As writers, it is our job to help keep this world flourishing.

As writers, we must write. And write like we mean it.

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21 thoughts on “Our Job as Writers

  1. This week. God, this week…! I had put down writing goals at the start of November, and I’ve tried to keep them, just to keep my sanity in check, in the midst of so much vitriol, fear, and confusion. And, when I’m alone and in the quiet, I can do that. But the stories that are really calling me are those about the disabled girl standing up to a bully boyfriend because -damn it- women are valid people who deserve the respect of their male counterparts; the homosexual man walking his Muslim coworker through the doors of their work because they’re stronger together; the ex-Army man teacher and father who cries in his office over the hate thrown at his students and his daughter and his husband, and wonders how the bright dream of a country he believed in enough to fight for went so wrong; and the young parents who sit with their toddler and their baby in their arms, at the same time apprehensive while still trying to be hopeful about the world their little ones are going to grow up in.

    Like a lot of my friends, I’m scared. I’m not willing to give up, though. The only failure is inaction. I’ve been writing letters, signing petitions, calling representatives. The human race is here as a blip in time. There’s no reason – or excuse – to shorten the length of that blip, though. Politics will shift a lot easier and faster than the natural world will do.

    I’m with you, Kate. I’ve always believed art is the one trait unique to humanity as an animal. We’re better than the dark world rising before us. Art can speak across color lines, wage and age gaps, and ideologies. So, we need to write: strong, hard, with truth and conviction.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Beautiful and powerful piece, Kate. I too believe we can do a lot with our writing, whether we pen fiction or nonfiction. Words have power. Whether we wield them subtly or bluntly, we shoulder a responsibility with them and have the potential to change minds–or at least get people thinking.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Yes! I wholeheartedly agree with every word. I’ve been trying to make a difference with my writing for my whole life (and I’m pretty old) – first with newspaper articles, then with the blog, now with the book – and it keeps seeming like people aren’t listening enough. 🙂 But I’ll keep doing it. I’ll keep writing about environmental issues especially because they are so important right now, and now more than ever. Thank you for the inspiration.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Right on, Sheila! Environmental/conservation issues have become a major theme in my fiction, too, when I realized that I wanted to do more than sign petitions and speak out on my blog. I feel good when I think about reaching out to an audience with an important message wrapped in a twelve-year-old girl’s magical adventures. 🙂 We do what we can, and when we feel like people aren’t listening enough, maybe we just have to write more. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Beautifully said Kate. I’m with you on all counts, about writing, and your opinion on politics and the fallout this election has left. And I’m just as concerned, even though I live on the other side of the border. We in Canada always get the ripple effect, and so far America’s Trump is already hurting our economy and he hasn’t even taken a seat yet. United we stand. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • My uncle who lives in England told me just last year not to let Trump win. I wish I had such power, but I thought it was interesting that citizens across the pond have strong opinions on our government. The world is linked together more intricately than one might think.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. I’m no longer thinking of writing as darkly as Vonnegut or P.K. Dick. I’m too optimistic now. Stll, the election shook the confidence. Bleak and ugly days may lie ahead for a time. So maybe The Man in the High Castle meets Slaughterhouse Five isn’t such a stretch. The thing is, neither politicians nor parties control our destinies. They can steer us into a ditch but we can climb back out. I like my friend Bob Tansey’s perspective on that.

    Liked by 1 person

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