The Root and The Guardian released the joint statement made by writer and Nobel Prize winner Wole Soyinka and poet and playwright J.P. Clark regarding the death of author Chinua Achebe, their “‘brother’ who was part of the ‘pioneer quartet’ of contemporary Nigerian literature.” The world grieves the loss of so important a writer.
“What I can say is that it was clear to many of us that an indigenous African literary renaissance was overdue,” [Chinua Achebe] wrote. “A major objective was to challenge stereotypes, myths, and the image of ourselves and our continent, and to recast them through stories — prose, poetry, essays, and books for our children. That was my overall goal.”
His novel Things Fall Apart became “a universally acknowledged starting point for postcolonial, indigenous African fiction, the prophetic union of British letters and African oral culture” (msn).
In my first go at college I enrolled in an African Literature course (I was so thrilled and excited at the selection of literature courses offered!) Things Fall Apart was one of the first novels I read by an African author. Others included So Long a Letter by Mariama Bâ and Woman at Point Zero by Nawal El Saadawi. I still carry these books with me from all those years ago.
Soyinka and Clark “…confidently assert that Chinua lives. His works provide their enduring testimony to the domination of the human spirit over the forces of repression, bigotry, and retrogression.” They also stated the importance that the next generation of writers keep creating, keep writing to ensure “that there is no break in the continuum of the literary vocation.”
Art is necessary. Creation is necessary. We must keep writing. We must support writers from the world over to keep writing, to continue telling their stories. We must listen and hear. This is how we overcome.
I would like to remind everyone that Long Hidden: Speculative Fiction from the Margins of History has nine more days of Kickstarter funding to go. They’ve already reached a second stretch goal. As an “anthology of speculative historical fiction revealing the voices of silenced dreamers” it will be a part of “a long and honorable legacy of literary resistance to erasure”.
Sofia Samatar has posted some excellent questions regarding why we write fantasy and what can it do for us. Check it, and my response, out – it’s a topic I’m interested in and have been thinking of tackling here on this blog. Thankfully Sofia is way better at posting than I am. A good role model is a good motivator!
WorldCon is underway in Chicago! Look at these panel descriptions:
Sat Sep 1 6:00-7:30 pm Finding Minorities
Where can you find books written by minority writers? How about books with minority lead characters? Our panelists discuss the evolution and current landscape of minorities as characters and recommend books by and about minority sexualities, races, genders, and ethnicities.
Martin Berman-Gorvine, Mary Anne Mohanraj, Sarah Stegall, Sofia Samatar.
Sun Sep 2 4:30-6:00 pm Cross-Cultural Themes in SF&F
From Resnick’s Kirinyaga tales to Bacigalupi’s Windup Girl, more and more we see cross-cultural characters and worlds playing leading roles in SF&F. What are some of the best examples? How can this enrich our writing as well as our lives? What are the keys to writing it well? How does one do research?
C. J. Covington, Farah Mendlesohn, Sara M. Harvey, Sofia Samatar, Warren Hammond.
That’s right! Discussions about minority writers and characters in sf/f, as well as cross-cultural themes in sf/f. Does this relate to Sofia’s question “what can fantasy do”? I think it very well might. Perhaps not exclusively so, but I think they are related.
It might be a slippery slope fallacy: how many fantastical elements, how many that’s-not-the-way-it-is-now (but it could be, right?) must there be in a work of fiction before it gets labeled genre or fantasy or speculative or science fiction? Two degrees of separation? Two levels removed from what we do and understand and believe now? Was Jules Verne, for example, speculative or just ahead of his time? Is there a difference? Before the end of our own Jim Crow era laws, were stories of a future without segregation fictional? speculative? fantastic? surreal?
What about Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein? Today we transplant organs from humans as well as non-human animals into human patients, not to mention artificial joints, limbs and prosthetics, and most recently a prosthetic arm that the patient herself controlled by thinking about moving it (read about it here at Wired, and here at PBS)! We play god more than we’ve ever been able to before. We’ve created super-strains of bacteria that threaten our health (lately, antibiotic-resistant STDs, and some brief info on MRSA and links), we introduce fish genes into our produce… the list goes on.
This is in some ways the question of is it science fiction if it could happen? But define “could”, define “probable” – are we talking decades, centuries? Are we talking if society gives up the mandate that we each work to earn money and supplant that with work to better conditions for life and for creativity and understanding, &etc.
Which is not the same question as to why write and read fantasy. But I think they are related. We need at least a two-pronged approach, it seems.
More discussions later.
What do you think?
I attended Wiscon over the Memorial Day weekend. It was wonderful! I listened to and participated in discussions on many topics, including “The Arab/Muslim ‘East’ in Science Fiction,” “Anarchism in SF” to “Untangling Class,” “Dogmatic Rationalism,” as well as an excellent panel discussion “Multiraciality in SF/F,” and many others.
I’d like to write about some of what was discussed in the Multiraciality panel. It is often over-looked or at least it is not often mentioned in discussions of race and ethnicity. Sofia Samatar moderated the panel, and was joined by Claire Light (who proposed the panel, I believe), Alaya Dawn Johnson, Victor Raymond, and Daniel Jose Older (I think – his name is not listed in the panel description in the program book).
The description as written in the program booklet: “How are mixed race characters used in SF/F? Are they symbols of racial detente in the future, wish fulfillment, tool for getting magical powers into a character–or something else entirely? It seems to be a relatively safe subject in YA–is that because a multiracial future is pleasant to contemplate? Are there mixed race characters in adult sf/f who are more than symbols? What about authenticity?”
Someone on the Multiraciality and SF/F panel said, “What is Science Fiction but an opportunity to imagine futures for all of us.” (Oh, the discussion was so good, I did not write down the speaker’s name – just jotted down the great things I heard so I could listen better. Sorry I can not attribute this quote.) So when a novel, or a tv series or movie, has a multiracial character (and it is often just one, isn’t it? there’s rarely more than one character that is not completely of the dominant culture/ ethnicity), or a character of a race other than the dominant culture’s for that matter, and writes that character with a “cultural gloss” the author has lost the opportunity to represent a meaningful character with a meaningful multiracial identity. That creates, in effect, an erasure. And erasing differences, cultures, actual realities people live every day is a dangerous practice. “You don’t exist,” is what multiracial readers can understand from this. “You and your reality are not valid. No one wants to hear about it. And it’s not interesting or worth mentioning if it does exist.” And this message, this sweeping under the rug is what all readers (regardless of race, ethnicity, culture, gender, class) and the culture as a whole hears, as well.
Even women of the dominant culture/ racial background have felt this erasure as well, not to mention the double erasure women of color have to contend with. After years of white men adventuring through the universe while women were relegated to passive, dumb support staff roles, we are finally seeing more women and girls as main characters. We’re reading about women in active roles, reading about girls out seeking their own adventures, out chasing dragons and making contact with aliens. Female characters are actually doing things in more of today’s stories – they’re out problem-solving, saving the world and the universe, creating and innovating, thinking and being, you know, human. For all of Tolkien’s excellent writing and story-telling, one would think the world was populated by men, one would think that adventures and the safety of the world rested on the shoulders of men, and that women were a barely existent species, an all but unheard of creature, rarely glimpsed, and when seen she is standing by her man or swooning after him.
Too often when a female character of a non-white race/ culture is described her racial and cultural identity is used for exoticism: it makes her hot and desirable to the white male reader. This is clearly problematic. It tells the reader that women are defined by and their usefulness is gauged by their attractiveness to men. The more exotic the better, up to a point. Too otherly cultural is not attractive.
Perhaps that’s why mixed race characters are often, to almost exclusively, one part “other” and one part white. As if no other combination existed. As if there wasn’t an extensive history of American Indian and African American marriages and unions in the history of the U.S. for example. This is often seen in Star Trek – there are (only?) half-alien and half-human characters of mixed species, and no (that I can think of) characters that are a mix of two or more “other” species. It’s as if characters are half-white so that they are understandable (understandable to whom, one might ask – why the dominant culture, of course) and not too “other.” This also makes it easier for the author to assimilate the multiracial character into the culturally dominant white paradigm, and not really touch on the character’s other culture except maybe to mention the smells of curry wafting from the kitchen, or borrowing mother’s sari/saree to wear as a costume to a high school dance (these were the only two non-dominant cultural references in a YA book whose female character was written as a mixed-race character).
One common counter-argument is that maybe these characters have a mixed race background but they identify with the dominant culture. But that’s not realistic and it is not factual as not everyone of mixed- or non-white culture wants to be or identifies with the dominant culture. And many people do not treat one another the same regardless of how that person may identify. So, to use the Harry Potter reference of Sofia’s previously mentioned “Race and Fandom” post, even if “Cho and the Patils were just English children of different ethnic backgrounds” who identify themselves by their citizenship and nothing else, every person they interacted with would not treat them as such. And in a population as large as Hogwarts, to continue with the Harry Potter example, not all children of non-white (here British) middle-class and mixed ethnic backgrounds would identify with the dominant culture. And magic certainly wouldn’t be based on and exist in this one culture. That would be like saying Nature is grounded in and responds to white American middle-class values. That would be absurd.
There are many cultures, many world-views, many belief structures that people identify with, live, believe, and embody. Mixed cultural identities and/or a mixed racial identities complicate and blur these boundaries and structures, and the discussion of race and culture becomes more difficult than it already was. But it is an important discussion. Please understand that this is an on-going discussion, that I have only touched on some major themes. Also, I am in no way an expert nor have I done extensive research. What I am is a person of a bi-cultural up-bringing, and though the cultures involved are both based on Western Christian belief structures (specifically German and American) it has been difficult for me to navigate. I don’t have any outward cultural markers that distinguish me visually as coming from another culture, so strangers probably assume I’m from the dominant American culture, though I’m not. I use this small less-obvious less-problematic mixed cultural up-bringing to inform my understanding of the need for fully realized multiracial characters in popular culture, including in my favorite genre of SF/F.
I do not want to read about “white-washed” worlds and futures. They aren’t and they won’t be. I read to expand my understanding of the human condition, to broaden my understanding of what people live and feel and experience. I read to experience or at least glimpse world-views and belief structures that I did not grow-up with and thus did not incorporate into the construct that is me. I want to transcend the limits of space and time and body, not narrow and limit myself. That’s the amazing expansive and enlightening power of literature.
Novels mentioned that “do mixed race well”: Samuel R. Delany’s Nova, Maureen F. McHugh’s China Mountain Zhang, Octavia E. Butler’s Kindred, Geoff Ryman’s Air, and the non-SF/F novel Autobiography of an Ex-Colored Man by James Weldon Johnson.
Fantasy writer (and much more) Sofia Samatar has written an excellent post on Race and Fandom in which she broaches important topic(s) very worth considering and discussing.
My initial, brief, response was this:
I opened the link to Farah Mendlesohn’s article “Crowning the Prince” intending to look it over and come back to it another time, but I read it in its entirety right then and there, took notes, and jotted down some thoughts.
Thank you for bringing up the topic of hollow multiculturalism in literature, Sofia. I think of a McDonaldization of culture where the metaphorical chicken nuggets are normal and a real chicken, recognizable and complete with anatomy and the the bone still in it is unnatural or at least gross and alien. You know, that most Americans think of eggs as white is another aspect of this: only certain chickens lay white eggs.
In other countries (In any country, we just don’t see them too often here in the States) eEggs come in all those other colors they normally come in: brown, tan, blue, speckled.
I had a thought regarding the house-elves in the Harry Potter books: what if they were a magic-bio-engineered species created specifically to serve humanity, without a sense of identity of self? Like robots, except magic for science. One of the interesting and problematic aspects of robots, a question many novels treat and raise is, of course, their subordinate nature and why self-aware and free peoples would create a self-aware non-free being. But by dismissing the possibility of house-elf freedom by simply stating ‘they don’t want it, ever, can’t, not in their nature, can’t change their genetics’ this entire discussion is erased. Actually, it prevents the question from arising. Which is worse. [This also ties in with the hero’s lack of agency and lack of bravery, since “bravery is about choice” as Mendlesohn wrote.]
Yep. I went right ahead and read Farah Mendlesohn’s article Crowning the King: Harry Potter and the Construction of Authority all the way through – coffee got cold, didn’t make brunch, just read and took some notes. Some of what she wrote touches on my interest in why fantasy is important: Mendlesohn writes that Rowling’s work, which she acknowledges (at the time the article was published) as an unfinished work, “… leads to a rejection of the subversive opportunities available to the fantasist exemplified in the works of Lewis Carroll and others: if a world is fundamentally fair and rational, subversion is politically unnecessary.” Yeah, read that again – better yet, read the article, if you don’t have time, read the paragraph that quote is from!
Hierarchy and authority are never questioned in the Harry Potter world, it’s only a matter of who is on top. You hope it’s the “good guys,” you know, the ones who are “nice” and who are “fair.” Mendlesohn points out the problem here: “The ideological structures of Rowling’s work focus on a manipulation of this uncritical construction of ‘fairness’. The denial of ideology which forms a significant element of the text promotes a willing suspension of intellectual rigor.” Whose idea of righteousness and fairness? We don’t question the ideology behind these terms because Rowling doesn’t and her characters don’t – they’re universal, aren’t they? Exactly the problem. Because the power of fantasy, the distancing effect of the fantastic, allows the reader to see herself and her culture from outside (as much as one can see from without that which one is within). Throwing that opportunity away, not engaging the reader to question her understanding of “fair” and of “right” and maintaining the status quo is disappointing at best, to the serious fantasy reader, it is much worse. Now you can see why I kept reading and let my coffee get cold.
Please also check out Saladin Ahmed‘s article: Is “Game of Thrones” too white? and Aliette de Bodard‘s post We’re all the same deep down, or “it’s all a matter of degree”. Both are excellently written, approachable, readable, and worth discussing.
Here’s a selection from Saladin Ahmed’s article: “When it comes to inherited conventions regarding race in epic fantasy, “Game of Thrones” is, in a sense, standing on the shoulders of dwarfs. The Lord of the Rings is the most obvious predecessor to Martin’s work, and it’s not hard to find subtle rhetorical responses to Tolkien in his books. When Time magazine dubbed Martin “the American Tolkien,” it highlighted not only Martin’s rather astonishing genius in world-building and narrative scope, but also the ideological baggage that all of us writing in the genre have inherited from our shared progenitor.”
Start reading your Rousseau. I remember watching LotR with my friend, Kim. At one point she said something like: “It’s been about an hour, time for a woman to walk across the screen and look all misty-eyed.” She could also have said that it was time for someones with dark skin to walk across the screen looking the “part of a savage horde,” as Ahmed put it.
And I’m very thankful for Aliette de Bodard for discussing what makes the statement “we’re all the same deep down” problematic, because, well, it’s true, basically. It’s called the human condition and it’s why art is so powerful, why and how it can pull a reaction from an audience that is not the artist. But it is a problematic statement and it doesn’t sit right. “At the same time… I think the main problem I have with the above sentences [We’re all the same deep down, or “it’s all a matter of degree”] is that they’re too reductive: they go straight to what they see as “the essential”, and forget that our lives are often made up of many large and small details, of a mosaic of beliefs and cultural mores which comes from the environment we’ve been raised in, the society we’ve moving in, the subcultures we’re members of, the people we frequent… Yeah, we’re all the same deep down, but, broadly speaking, life in Hồ Chí Minh City follows very different rhythms from life in Paris…” I remembered what I wrote on Women with clean houses: redux, (on some levels there are and on some levels there are not this thing we term “people”) and continued to think thanks to her post.
Maybe go read these posts and their comments after you warm-up your coffee.
A few exciting things happened these last few days:
– poetry editors Erin Keane, Drew Morse, and Sonya Taaffe at Strange Horizons have accepted my poem “Sea-Change” for publication! How thrilled am I?! Thrilled! Not only are they themselves an accomplished group of poets, but they’ve also published works by Rose Lemberg, Anne Sheldon, Mike Allen, Jo Walton, and so many other talented writers.
– tonight I heard poet, activist, teacher Nikki Giovanni give a talk thanks to the UW’s Distinguished Lecture Series. Wow, what an amazing woman. Her clarity, passion, joy, intensity, knowledge… just, wow. I laughed, cried, scribbled notes… and afterward, I biked into the night with a renewed sense of hope and purpose. And duty.
Here’s a few quotes I’d like to share:
– This is the year two-thousand and twelve. I think being alive is a good idea. I want to recommend it, I really do.
– Nobody beats the machine. John Henry couldn’t beat the machine.
– I was so upset, I wrote a poem.
– I urge you not to think of success, but to think of truth.
Nikki spoke on so many topics. And like any intelligent, creative, engaged human being she wove these stories and anecdotes of seemingly disparate topics into a cohesive, moving, meaningful, urgent lecture. And there was poetry. Of course.
She spoke of the importance of a quality education and the difference it can make in an individual’s life, the importance of art education, women’s rights and reproductive freedom, Pullman porters and A. Philip Randolf, John Glenn and black women humming when faced with death and fear, eating dinner alone and watching tv, and she spoke of grandmothers as the hidden person of the 60’s – the hidden voice behind the civil rights movement telling their grandchildren “nobody is better than you” even though the kids were being spat on, beaten, worse… and who is going to say to their grandmother, “no, we couldn’t do it” after these women had survived so much, had thrived, built families and communities, and loved and worried and lived their lives… exactly. That’s how you move forward despite great odds. And the civil rights movement did just that.
And I think that’s what artists are charged with, too, to be true to themselves and humanity and create the best art they can create. Which is to say, not to give up, to keep fighting the good fight. Change the world for the better, do not let it conform you. Nikki said: “What you can do is what you believe in and not wind up saying ‘I wish I had.'” That’s one of the times I cried. I might question myself and my abilities as a writer, but it is what I believe in, it is where my passion lies. I can’t give up. I can’t go back and say “I couldn’t do it.”
Nikki said: “I believe the Universe is just.” Well, I don’t know if she said “Universe” or “universe”; regardless, the Universe is awesome and it is what we have and are a part of. As Carl Sagan said, we are a way for the universe to experience itself. That’s a duty, too.
“… Chateaureynaud is a founding member of the contemporary movement La Nouvelle Fiction: “New” because it rose up against the prevailingly minimalist and confessional tendencies (autofiction) of recent French writing, seeking to rouse it from what critic Jean-Luv Moreau called “the slumber of psychological realism,” and to restore myth, fable, and fairy tale to a place of primacy in fiction.”
What interests me most, and excites me tremendously!, is the part about restoring “myth … and fairy tale to a place of primacy in fiction.” Which is exactly what we need to do. Sadly, there is a tendency in many circles of our society to demean or belittle fantasy. For many, the fantastic is unacceptable: it is childish (that something for children should be seen as unimportant says quite a bit about these people, if you ask me), nonsense, trivial, and lazy. Fantasy is simply unimportant, child’s play. And is therefore dismissed.
But fantasy is important. Very important to our being human, to our growth as individuals and as a people, to our ability to create and innovate, to learn… actually, fantasy is an integral part of our ability to discover science “fact.”
Never mind that writing fantasy is a whole heck of a lot more work than writing “non-genre” stories: the author has to create worlds and inhabit it, and create the histories of that world and all its people, and more. Non-fantasy writers simply use everything that’s already around them, they don’t create whole new worlds.
This is a topic that Ursula K. Le Guin has written on, beautifully, passionately, and in depth. And I’d like to take up the dialogue. Because I feel it is of vital importance to human culture and human survival. … and through extension the survival of many entities on the planet.
So, I shall come back to this topic later. I am on a short time schedule at the moment, but I wanted to introduce this topic as it has been tumbling about my head for the past year, and it is about time I started to discuss it.
Hello dear Reader,
It has been much too long since I’ve posted. The holidays are already upon us and the new year is imminent. This then is a post to wish you a happy Winter and whichever Holiday or none it is you celebrate or don’t. I like to wish people a happy Solstice, because even if it is not a phenomenon they think about in celestial and cosmological terms, it affects them and their lives. The return of Light – something we can all appreciate and enjoy.
It has been difficult for me to get into the Christmas spirit this year: Madison is unseasonably warm (and no, I’m not complaining) and the trees and ground are not covered in a blanket of sparkling snow. The streets are not even covered in dirty gray snow and sludge. Thus, I kept feeling like I had weeks before Christmas arrived. I was wrong.
A friend mentioned that it feels like we are in borrowed time, a borrowed November. I do not know whose November nor whether or not they miss it and want it back.
The solstice was only a few days ago, so really it is only winter just now. Anyone who knows Wisconsin, however, will let you know that it’s winter once we’ve put the jack-o-lanterns in the compost and the Halloween candy’s been eaten up. Two seasons comprise 75% of the year and two share the remaining 25%. If you know anything about Wisconsin you know that Spring and Autumn are all too brief; you can miss them if you for some reason don’t venture out of doors for a spell, such as if you have a nasty illness or a project that you must focus on and finish. Shut your eyes for a little too long and you’ll be lucky to see the tail end of Autumn as Winter comes barreling in. And yes, Winter comprises the majority of that 75%.
My goal for 2012 is to revise Daughters of the Spirits, my 2011 NaNoWriMo novel, and begin At the Table with Kings, the SciFi novel that’s been in my head and somewhat on paper, the one that was my first choice for NaNoWriMo but that I shied away from. Well, I shan’t shy away anymore.
Which is a resolution of mine, as a writer: I have resolved to write the stories that present themselves to me, the stories that swirl and crawl there way up my throat and into my mouth and into my fingers, the ones that have struggled through my insides and other untold spaces. They have worked so hard to present themselves, how can I deny them life? Who am I to say, ‘no you’re not publishable, look at you, what sort of a plot arc is that? How am I going to package this so someone will want to print you?’ I shall never tell a story, “stories don’t look like that.”
How often have I heard, as example, that how I acted or looked was unfeminine, when everything I do, by definition is feminine. What those people meant to admonish me with, is that what I did or looked like was culturally unfeminine… traditionally unfeminine wouldn’t have worked, because there are so many traditions and have been so many more traditions that such a statement is quite useless. Of course the same can be said for culture… unfeminine according to current dominant culture, pop culture (you’ll enjoy the typo that I corrected: “poop” instead of “pop”) which is no static thing.
Stories have every right to exist as they are without the imposition of a culturally faux consumer-driven publishing market dictating the shape and scope of their existence. Which is to say: my creativity and my thoughts are legitimate and beautiful as they stand. The worlds I create have a place in the Universe and are not inherently less privileged than any other worlds.
I will reread Emerson, especially “Self-Reliance”:
In every work of genius we recognize our own rejected thoughts… Great works of art have no more affecting lesson for us than this. They teach us to abide by our spontaneous impression with good humored inflexibility then most when the whole cry of voices is on the other side. Else, a stranger will say with masterly good sense precisely what we have thought and felt all the time, and we shall be forced to take with shame our own opinion from another.
We but half express ourselves, and are ashamed of that divine idea which each of us represents. … Nothing is at last sacred but the integrity of our own mind.
For non-conformity the world whips you with its displeasure. … but the sour faces of the multitude, like their sweet faces, have no deep cause,–disguise no god, but are put on and off as the wind blows, and a newspaper directs.
This critique of society and the sway of popular culture still applies today. It also explains why “bad” novels sell so well. Thankfully, there still are presses interested in intelligent stories, and publishing houses that appreciate well-written work, creative work, works of art and genius.
Circuitously to say – my resolution is to be genius, that is, to write the stories that are within me and express myself wholly. To accept the divine idea only I can represent.
Happy Holidays, warm wishes of Light and Peace, within and without.
NaNoWriMo update: 9410 words so far, and behind on my writing.
This is what happens: life gets in the way of living. Turns out I have a bronchial infection. No wonder I was so tired for a couple weeks, then the coughing, then the real tired with the owies and the coughing… and because why stop there, we have an infestation of pupating larvae of wool-eating moths. My wool! My lovely sweaters and knitting! Had – the exterminators came today. So I spent the whole day Sunday bent over in the attic vacuuming and getting everything the hell out of the upstairs. Did I mention it’s the bedroom? (That was not a pleasant way to wake up.) It will take me at least a week to wash EVERYTHING. Except the woolens, because they can’t be washed and dried (if you want them to maintain the same size they went in as). The wool needs to be frozen for 48 hours to kill the buggers. I do not have a freezer that large. So I will have to wait for the temperature to drop to below freezing for two days straight. Never have been so eager for it to freeze.
This weekend my mom celebrates her birthday – Happy Birthday Mama! And my friend and writing companion celebrates finishing/passing her prelims – Congratulations Sofia! So there is good news with the less than ideal news. (But I have no energy to bake cakes, that makes me sad.)
And, I’m done writing the the scenes that I had in my head, so the easy writing is completed. Now comes the work work part of the month. Yeah. Exactly why I signed up for this challenge: make the generative part of writing happen, force it, do it, push through regardless of the frustration and the uncertainty and the insecurity. The stuff that makes the writing good is, interestingly enough, the stuff that makes it difficult to write in the first place. Because the issues and emotions that are difficult but I’ve come to terms with, those aren’t the ones that motivate me, they aren’t the reason for the facial tick, for the tap tap tapping of feet or fingers drumming, or the reason the dishes really need to be done right this minute. No. The motivators are the issues I’m unsure how to approach or the ones that piss me off so much I don’t even know where to begin. Overload. But these are exactly the issues that need to be discussed, explored, written, felt, shared.
(tiny voice) But I don’t want to.
It doesn’t matter. Keep writing.
Does this look familiar? This is why art is vital to culture and to the human condition. Writing makes us human. Writing and reading. And I use writing in the most general sense: it includes any form of story-telling. Writing and reading make us more human. Better humans. They connect us to ourselves, to a larger whole. They allow us to grow and experience feelings and thoughts we might otherwise be unfamiliar with, or feel overwhelmed by, or disoriented or isolated…
Really writing and reading are not separate like the use of two distinct words might have you think. It’s not unlike breathing; breathing out is writing but you need to breathe in too, and that’s reading, and you need breathe more than just once, so you breathe out again and that’s reading, and you need to breathe in again and that’s writing… Breathe a lot my dear friends. Don’t stop.