Tuesday, February 20, 2007

A look through jaundiced eyes

A friend once asked me how I could write as much as I do. Where do my ideas come from? Why do I feel compelled to put them down on paper? Does anyone care what I think and/or write?

Writing has never been a problem for me. I wrote stories when I was a kid. I loved essay questions in high school and university because I could write reams of meaningless drivel with a certain amount of style and panache and get a good grade, even if I really didn't know anything about the subject. Style over substance.

Ideas? Everyone has them, don't they? They don't necessarily have to be good ideas, do they? One can write about bad or indifferent ideas just as well. The net effect may well be that you will be ridiculed once people have rummaged through your prose, but they might just as well publish your work and make you a bestseller. Or give you a job writing for the New York Times or the National Enquirer.

I haven't been writing much in recent days, having been busier than usual dealing with things, writing proposals, crunching numbers, etc., but I am always thinking of writing, because I enjoy it.

The problem is: what to write about? There are things that piss me off or thrill me to pieces every day. The things that wind me up are those things that you might expect me to be upset about if you have been visiting here awhile, things like human stupidity, restrictive governments, mindless violence, etc. The things that please me are triumphs of the individual mind and individual action. These things can range from a random act of kindness of one individual to another to some monumental accomplishment of someone who has spent years writing a magnificent literary or musical opus.

The problem is that, were it not for my optimistic nature, much of the time these days I would simply be sad, disappointed, incredulous at the pointless mindlessness that surrounds us. The world should be getting better, but it isn't. There are kids ganging up and beating or killing street people. There are gangs trying to kill each other. There are ideologies and religions which can't seem to keep their adherents from trying to wipe out anyone and everyone who doesn't play on their same insane team. It's a good thing that there have been so many medical advancements in recent years because the human race seems bent on killing and maiming with an efficiency that the political and religious butchers of the past would have drooled over.

This all bothers me, and not just the fact that there is so much human tragedy in the world. It bothers me on principal, because I feel that every human being on the globe should feel safe in his home, on the roads and sidewalks of his city, and even in the teeming bustle of cities far away. It is true that most people will never suffer the things that I have described, but the fact that even one should ever have to do so is too much. It's just too damn much.


  1. I love the title of this post.

    And this, "...political and religious butchers of the past would have drooled over."

    What to write, indeed. If you have a political goal or if you think you need a reason or a fable ending, it's daunting. Purpose to writing?

    The purpose in writing is to write.

    Once you believe that initself is a worthy enough reason, you will be free to let all your ideas come forth and fall into story. Our stories are all in us. We just need to let them out.

    What you get from it in writing, remembering, reliving, inventing, modifying and sharing the stories will identify itself to you, as you write or after you finish or a time later, when you reread it. What others get will be given to them.

    You can have an idea of the tone you wish to convey or the lesson you want to teach, but don't get stuck on why or what. Just do.

    Writing is creative, in that, as you write, the world or event or thought or emotion or memory is made as you write it. It didn't just occur once somewhere, it occurs as you write it and it takes on it's own life and occurs again as you read it and continue to write it.

    Writing is a joint effort, between you and God (your soul / your gift / whatever you wish to insert here).

    Words are rarely wasted.

    Put yourself where you want to write about, in your head and heart and let the pen do the rest.

    Enjoy yourself!

    Even one person who hurts is too many. And, even one person who reads, is worth writing for.

  2. Writing for me is kind of like breathing and thinking. It's not an entirely voluntary process because in the largest sense, it is documenting history. My experiences and thoughts, your experiences and thoughts, the experiences and thoughts of everyone who chooses to share their internal process provides learning and growing for all of us.

    As for the craziness out there, yeah... sometimes it's too much. I've accepted that life is suffering... dukkha... and the best I can do is relieve it where I can, for whomever I can.



  3. You know what I find ironic? The biggest butchers in history were essentially politicians. They were, in earliest times, likely born into their position of leadership, later some bullied their way into the position and now, in many places, are actually elected by their victims.

    This class of people, having shown us by example that mere serial murderers are pikers by comparison, include the likes of Hitler, Stalin, Mao, Idi Amin, and numerous others in the last century alone. Now, the next great clash could very well be a religious one, unless something happens to calm everyone down before things go completely crazy.

    Maybe the fact that there are millions of bloggers out there, each with a small but attentive audience, could be helpful in some way.