“We must be willing to let go of the life we planned so as to have the life that is waiting for us…” Joseph Campbell
Swimming in the sea on a Wednesday afternoon is a luxury almost too rich to bear. Staring out at the oil platforms while the low winter sun dapples the waves, I feel pampered…spoiled in a way that I have perhaps not entirely earned. I struggle to reconcile the gift of a loafing, wading, sunning afternoon with the shadow of guilt gently tugging at my elbow.
You should be working.
Funny thing about those oil platforms. They are a necessary eyesore. The price we pay to live this extravagant life of warm November beaches and idle hours in the middle of the work week. But at night, those platforms sparkle at the edge of the horizon, adding depth to that dark Pacific, marking a boundary between civilization and the wilds of the Channel Islands and the open sea.
I’ve been thinking a lot about earned circumstances and what the book jacket of the latest novel I’m reading (Donna Tartt’s Goldfinch) calls “the machinations of fate.” While I feel as though my current situation was all but unavoidable, I wonder if it was preordained. I feel like I’m taking a sudden holiday in the middle of my life, and though none of the buoys and safety nets propping me up are charity – every strap and carabiner earned through paychecks and what felt like endless hours of swallowing opinions and eating shit so as to avoid “rocking the boat – it’s hard to completely let my guard down. Those platforms may be marking the border of the deep sea, but who knows what gods and monsters are hiding below the surface, ready to lay waste to my well laid plans.
The quote at the beginning of this piece was once stenciled on a cheery yellow wall by an old roommate in an optimistic mood. While our mutual friends were buying homes and starting families, we were still struggling with tiny paychecks and disappointing love-lives. We agreed to be roomies to save cash, but in order to remind ourselves that this was just a temporary way-station on the way to our “real lives,” we stenciled Campbell’s words on the main wall in our living room. It was our talisman.
And now this former roommate and old friend is living halfway ’round the world. Having decided to seize the reins of her destiny, she skipped town and headed east. First to Africa and now further still…all the way to Indonesia. Meanwhile, I find myself sitting here, as the tide slinks in, wondering about fate and luck and circumstance
- Reading the End Bookcast, Ep.11: Criminals in Fiction and Donna Tartt’s The Goldfinch (readingtheend.com)
- Love your fate no matter what (julienmatei.com)
- Caroline Baum Interviews Donna Tartt (booktopia.com.au)
- What’s Really Priceless? Art, Money And Fate In Tartt’s ‘Goldfinch’ (npr.org)
- Food for Thought: Joseph Campbell on how ‘All if Life is Sorrowful’ (strucknwords.com)
- The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt (helannsta.wordpress.com)
You can’t cross the sea merely by standing and staring at the water. Rabindranath Tagore
I’ve been on an unexpected (and extended) sabbatical. As my last blog entry revealed (“When It’s Time To Change…”) while the summer drew to a close recently, I found myself searching for alternatives: new ways to write, and new ways to live. I was stuck in a rut both creatively and literally, and I could feel this tall, powerful wave of ennui casting a cold shadow across my immediate future, shading every action and reaction. I knew evasive action was called for – that “duck-and-dive” solution all surfers employ – but still I stood there, watching the tide recede and the horizon vanish over a froth of whitewater.
So if you take my tsunami metaphor to its most logical conclusion, you can imagine that eventually gravity and the pull of the moon took over as I failed to act. When that wave broke, it felt as if the power of an entire ocean swirled around me, threatening to pull me under as I tumbled with the flotsam and jetsam of ragged seaweed, stones and sea glass. If you’ve been tossed by a rogue wave – or ever lost your footing on the edge of a diving board or lakeshore or riverbed – then you know that, for a time, you lose your sense of direction. You can’t tell “up” from “down,” and that lack of oxygen makes the endeavor fuzzy and desperate.
Eventually, – and only very recently – I cracked up through the surface, gasping for air and squinting through the saltwater sunlight. I’m not out of the woods yet (far from it), but at least I’ve got the horizon once again in my sights and I’m steadily starting to make my way towards the shoreline. I’m trying to keep Stevie Smith’s poem out of my head (“Not Waving, But Drowning” ), and am taking heart in the literal (and figurative) dolphins that seem to be appearing with ever-increasing regularity; totems and protectors, keeping away the sharks while providing spiritual encouragement.
Though many of us who self-identify as writers and creatives do what we do because we must, sometimes real life is a worthy (if not insurmountable) opponent. When the shit hits the fan, it’s tough to find time to write or paint or even think beyond the next few minutes. And while you’re forced to live in the moment, you’re anything but Zen as confrontations and challenges (almost all unexpected, though advanced warning rarely allows any time to establish more than the most rudimentary defense) demand attention, and cast spotlights of worry and regret across your futurescape. It’s akin to peering over the fence (or prison wall, depending on how deep you’re stuck) that lies between you and your ideal situation, and seeing nothing but a gauntlet of barbed-wire battlements and black-diamond hurdles that must each be overcome before you can cross the finish-line.
But life without writing – for those of us who fancy ourselves authors and journalists and bloggers and poets and everything in between – is nothing more than a shadowland. You can only stumble around in the dark so long before you reach for the light by grabbing that pen or laptop and getting back to the page. So while I’ve been treading water and searching for life rafts (or even an accommodating buoy), I have been writing every chance I get (I’ve put up a couple of the more decent poems here). Nothing I’ve put down is noteworthy, publishable or even remotely reader-ready, but it’s kept me sane, kept me going, and kept me from giving in whenever my leaden limbs felt ready to throw in the towel.
After the storms have subsided, and you’re left wandering the windswept beaches of what’s left of your previous incarnation, it’s hard not to lament what you’ve lost. Right now, I’m feeling most panicky about the time I’ve wasted. All those days I could’ve been crafting a novel or penning a screenplay. All those hours – hours I’ve craved when chained to my cubicle – left to rot and wither; a bounty unclaimed…countless opportunities lost. Every day, I battle percolating disappointment and disillusionment both in myself and in my commitment, trying to assuage my fears with restated goals and reignited purpose.
But I’m not fooling myself: brave words are not enough. I know that in the end, the only way to get where I need to be is to keep paddling; eking out every miserable meter and paying a sort of penance for whatever foresight or fortitude I failed to utilize. When you’re eyeing a wavebreak, it’s best to focus your gaze on the outside edge of the set. That way, you can tell which wave to ride, which wave to skip, and when “duck and dive” is your only option.
The Daily Creative Writer may have been stymied by unexpected and turbulent events this fall, but like all good life rafts, my writing eventually bobbed me up from the depths. And that’s the reason why I keep coming back.
It’s the reason the writing always wins.
- Longing for Hermitage by Elizabeth Cunningham (feminismandreligion.com)
“And the day came when the risk to remain tight in a bud was more painful than the risk it took to blossom.” – Anais Nin
I’ve been antsy lately. I’m constantly unable to focus, and more often than not I find myself balancing many plates but failing basic nourishment. The other day, a friend of mine caught me in a state of frenzy – kitchen in disarray (I was rearranging), laundry half folded, and me…outside with a hammer (finally) replacing the screens on my windows.
In case you’re wondering, “frenzy” is not the ideal state for creative output – particularly writing. And so, for the last few weeks, I’ve been trying to retrain my brain so that focusing comes easier. There’s plenty to do, but in my current state of affairs, multitasking might actually be doing more harm than good.
Sometimes you need to recalibrate your settings and realize that all those cliché’s about serving too many masters and burning candles at both ends have a point – we can only accomplish so much at any given time.
I’m realizing that it’s time to prioritize yet again. One of my bosses once explained to me that everyone has a “top ten hit list”: those dreams and goals that you carry around with you all the time, tucked neatly into your subconscious but influencing your motives and ambitions from the sidelines. Your list might be “1. Lose weight…2. Pay off credit cards…3. Learn the art of French cuisine”. But the trick is, when you finally find yourself in a position to check something off the list, all the items shift – some may even disappear completely to make space for a whole new set of wants and needs.
As my boss explained at the time, “you might achieve your number one goal, but that doesn’t necessarily mean your number 2 goal moves into that slot. Could turn out you find yourself with a whole new set of priorities.”
For example, let’s say you need a new car – and that need has been sitting in your number one spot for quite a while. Then one glorious day, you pull off the lot in your new ride. There, like the flickering tiles of a train station schedule board, your list morphs and changes: now you need insurance, and perhaps a warranty or good mechanic…. You definitely need to start budgeting for regular car washes and maintenance. Even parking takes on a new significance (corner spots and end slots become your highest achievement).
Which brings me back to my current state of tumult and agitation – sitting there, covered in window screen dust and surrounded by disheveled dishware I wondered, is this a symptom of some greater imbalance? Perhaps I need to re-jigger my own schedule board – reassess my own top ten hit list and analyze whether the benchmarks and goalposts I’ve previously established are still relevant.
It was time, once again, to step off the path, pull out the map and compass, and make sure I was still headed in the right direction –and that the horizon I’m aiming for is still the one I want.
So I’m hunkering down with a my very special team of experts…Hey there Julia Cameron and Sarah Ban Breathnach – long time, no see! Hello new acquaintances Chris Guillebeau and Alexander Heyne– so curious to hear what you have to say. And a hearty “Welcome back” to my poets and muses and artists galore – let’s return to the drawing board and commence the Imagineering of the life of the Daily Creative Writer.
Time for a change…. Time to shake things up and rearrange those routines.
Complacency is the devil in this case – so I’m gearing up for a sort of exorcism with the hope that a jumpstart and a swift kick in the butt will result in some fresh work and some unexpected inspiration.
Time to take Ms. Nin’s advice, and face the painful blossoming.
For those of you who perhaps, like me, suddenly found yourself struck with the horrible, no-good, slightly awful and yet totally awesome Brady Brunch earworm, “It’s Time To Change,” – here’s the actually musical number in all it’s glory. Enjoy!
- Rearranging (opehliastic.wordpress.com)
- How Creating A Better Bucket List Becomes A Blueprint For Living Your Best Life (fastcompany.com)
If we could live without passion, maybe we’d know some kind of peace. But we would be hollow. Empty rooms, shuttered and dank. Without passion, we’d be truly dead.” ― Joss Whedon
“You must keep writing,” my mother declared during a phone conversation the other day.
It’s not the first time I’ve heard that demand. After all, my own inner muse is like a tiny, imaginary drill sergeant – constantly ordering me to drop down and give her 20…. 20 lines, 20 metaphors, 20 paragraphs.
I am wholly aware when I’m dodging the page. The absence grows longer, and the guilt digs in deeper. Every day I skip writing, I carve another notch in an unsavory, shame-inducing belt. I am no maestro of the pen, no wordy lady-killer with impeccable charm and a heart of gold. I am not seducing language. I am not showering mountains of prose with flattery and barely hidden innuendo.
What is it the Eagles say?
The flame rises but it soon descends
Empty pages and a frozen pen
You’re not quite lovers, and you’re not quite friends
After the thrill is gone…
It’s an apt analogy – an estrangement from your creative works feels, in many ways, like a love affair gone cold. Where’s the spark? Where’s the heady desire? Where’s the need to be together whenever and wherever possible? I used to carry around notebooks in my purse, scribbling thoughts while waiting for my latte. I used to keep a notepad by the bed so that sleepy inspiration could be quickly jotted down before bedtime. I used to plot out my next novel while taking long walks on the beach at sunset.
And I used to wine and dine that muse with artist dates and the easy, comforting click-clack of my blog entries and morning pages.
But now, my writing and I, we sit quietly at the breakfast table, listening to each other chew rapidly cooling toast. We mumble goodbye at the door, with a peck on the cheek and a rote “I love you, I love you too” melody. A fight would be a welcome reprieve from this unenthusiastic stalemate. Some passion. Some fire. A build up of recriminations and accusations that could, ultimately, bring us back together, closer than ever.
Instead, we tip toe around each other, constantly disheartened by the icy hearth we share. The matches just can’t stay lit, and the little inside jokes and small tokens of affection just don’t do it anymore. There’s no juice left. We’re just both empty husks of what we once were.
There’s always going to be a debate about what makes a writer a “Writer.” Just this week, I’ve complained about the astronomical wealth of the dilettantes in the field ($95 million dollars earned off Fifty Shades of Gray?? You have got to be kidding), but that’s akin to the grumpy husband or wife throwing bitter remarks at the newlyweds down the street who have the nerve to flaunt their love among respectable adults. It’s not quite envy, it’s more like dispirited exasperation – how can it be so easy for some people?
“..think of the money you could make. Your words and stories trump that shit any day!” wrote my friend the other day after I lamented the success of the Fifty Shades phenomenon. A nice little “buck up soldier” moment akin to a friend telling a disappointed housewife, “but you’re husband’s such a great provider, and you keep a lovely home.”
So am I merely trapped in a Betty Draper phase? Is it that I feel like a put-upon homemaker who really just wants some handsome man to sweep her off on a romantic Roman adventure?
(If Jon Hamm’s asking, I’m going – Rome…London…Bakersfield…sign me up!)
Eventually, those disgruntled 60s consorts found a way to declare their independence in the shadow of the Feminine Mystique and The Bell Jar. Bras were burned and frozen dinners made their debut, and for many Betty Drapers life was in infused with new inspiration…new meaning.
Perhaps I’ve been catering to my muse too long. Or perhaps I’ve been taking her for granted. But apparently there’s a recalibration that needs to take place – a long sit down at the kitchen table could help, or a lovers’ respite along a rocky Italian coast just might do the trick.
The thrill may be gone, but for writers it’s never over. We are not truly happy, truly satisfied, truly complete unless we are writing. I’ve been keeping my morning pages going through this Daily Creative Writer hiatus. And, truth be told, I do have notebooks brimming with plot points and hastily jotted poetic verse. My muse and I haven’t really been on the rocks; we’ve just been on a “break.”
Now’s the time to commence the wooing and romance my creative instincts; I must ramp up my “prose-y” desire, and invest in some chocolate and flowers.
Don’t worry about me and my muse – like all great romances, we’ll work it out in the end
And isn’t making up half the fun?
- Overcoming writer’s block (cristianmihai.net)
- My Writing Muse (myfearlesswriting.wordpress.com)
- My Muse (daveyssuitcase.wordpress.com)
- Mini Muses: What’s On Your Writing Desk? (augustmclaughlin.wordpress.com)
- Writer’s Imperative: Journal, Keep Notebooks & Diaries (vignettewriter.wordpress.com)
When melancholy arrives, sometimes it’s best to let it buy a round.
By Elizabeth Cutright
A few days ago, I found myself completely unable to write. Creatively incapacitated and uninspired, stuck in a rut of my own making and painfully aware I only had myself to blame. And the feeling wasn’t just focused on writing, but on life in general.
Suddenly everything just felt too sad and overwhelming. It was one of Holly Golightly’s angry red days, when all was decidedly not right with the world.
- “FEELING: The one where you’re sitting alone in a dark bar with a bitter drink on a rainy day and you suddenly realize that this is your life, the final verdict on who you are at the age you’ve gotten to, and in a pulse beat you’re crowded by the phantoms of everyone you didn’t grow up to be, every delayed breakup and untaken trip and turned-down job now hoisting glasses on the stools around you, pressed knee-to-knee with the children you failed to bear or raise, and you feel that all your breath has gone into them, that somewhere only a shimmering membrane away from reality these others are breathing for you.
- HOW TO EAT IT: What kind of snacks do they have at this bar? Goldfish crackers? Perfect. Whole handfuls of goldfish crackers. Tip the extras into your purse. (from A Guide to Eating Very Particular Feelings, Part II).
I particularly love the personification of failures that Zimmerman depicts. I can see that wood paneled bar, populated by all my failures. Look! Over there is the opportunity to work in the film industry that I turned down, primarily because it was offered to me by my high school nemesis. And at that booth in the corner, the one with the pitchers of beer and smudged pint glasses, are all the colleges I didn’t apply to – NYU, Berkley, Oxford – because I was so focused on staying close to home. Swallowing shots at the end of the bar is the good guy I let get away, and hovering near the pool table are all the bad guys I barely got away from. I can see the jobs I turned down picking tunes from the jukebox while sipping margaritas, and two of the jobs I took too long to quit are buying rounds for all the resumes I never sent out.
And there I am, perched on a stool with my Tito’s and soda (with a slice of orange if you please), gazing at the glazed mirror propped up behind the pyramid of booze. Through those colorful bottles, all different shapes and sizes, I see reflections of all the people I never became, the different families I never began, and I can almost see the “shimmering membrane” that separates me from the “reality these others are breathing for you.”
I’m a big ol’ Sci-Fi/Fantasy geek, and some of my favorite plots involve alternate timelines. What would the world be like if the Roman Empire never failed? What if JFK was never assassinated? What if Stalin was never born? (What if Fringe was never cancelled?)
What if I had made a different decision? Another choice? Picked a different hand and received an altogether different prize?
What kind of life could I be leading? Should I have headed somewhere else, focused on another goal?
It’s a bit like those “choose your own adventure” books that came out in the 80s. I remember ordering several through Scholastic (remember when you’d get that catalog and then beg your parents to let you buy a book or two? And then that fantastic day when the box arrived, and the teacher handed out your purchases? Amazon pales in comparison to that wish fulfillment). I have to admit, I always peeked – I checked out the outcome of every choice because I wanted to know what would happen if I chose option “A” versus what would happen if I picked “B” instead.
Of course, those books allowed you to start all over again if you didn’t like where you ended up. At first glance, it seems as if life is not nearly as simple as those long-forgotten plotlines.
But maybe it is. A friend of mine’s mother once told her, “if you don’t like your life, change it. Start living the life you’re dreaming of and everything else will fall into place.”
Sounds simple enough, but there’s a tricky maneuver you have to pull off first – and that’s deciding what life you really want. Even more difficult is deciding why you’re unhappy with what you have (a luxury, I am well aware, available mostly to those of us lucky enough to have these “first world problems” – in many parts of the world, you feel privileged to carve out any life at all), and if it’s your situation or your perspective that’s to blame.
Right now, I’m in the process of taking Zimmerman’s philosophical advice – I’m looking for my goldfish crackers, some salty, bit-sized analgesics that’ll get me through the end of this melancholy happy-hour and back out onto the sidewalk of life, a little buzzed but also recharged and slightly less wounded.
And once I figure out exactly what those crackers might represent, you better believe I’m going to stuff as many as I can into my purse and pockets…after all, I’ll need one for my baby and plenty more for the road.
- Mud puddles and goldfish crackers (ofbearsandbutterflies.wordpress.com)
To paraphrase Neil deGrasse Tyson, the great thing about facts is, they’re true whether you believe in them or not.
By Elizabeth Cutright
It’s an old cliché that’s in no danger of going away any time soon…
Information is power.
The saying can be interpreted in a number of ways and easily applied to a variety of situations. Knowing the reputation of a vendor or manufacturer helps you make better purchasing decisions. Reading Yelp reviews can lead you to the perfect pizza. Listening to your friends’ suggestions can help you suss out your next favorite book, avoid a notorious speed-trap, or plan your next fabulous vacation.
Information is power.
I’m sure you’re not surprised to learn that to me that particular saying brings to mind a sort of story – a retelling really – of a handful of experiences I had whilst serving as a legal secretary/”constitutional advisor” for a small town attorney in Needles, California.
Regular readers of the Daily Creative Writer have heard about my desert-scape adventures plenty of times before, but I’m not sure I’ve ever spoken specifically about the legal work I undertook while vaguely employed by the San Bernardino Country court system. As part of an effort to challenge drug interdiction stops on Interstate-40 on its eastern approach towards the Arizona state-line, the defense attorney I worked for had begun an intensive counter argument designed to bring down one particularly rogue highway patrol officer and (hopefully) reform an entire law enforcement system built upon an unjustifiable (and unconstitutional) racial profiling strategy.
In colloquial terms, we were trying to stop the CHP from pulling over motorists for DWBs – Driving While Black/Brown.
Needles is a small town, with few criminal catastrophes beyond drunken teenagers, truck-stop prostitution and boating while intoxicated (Lake Havasu is about 20-30 miles away). Despite its small town footprint, the Needles Court was grand central for any number of moving violations that took place along the I-40 within 60 miles or so of the city limits. And as you’ve no doubt guessed, it wasn’t the speeders on their way to the casinos of Laughlin, NV nor the distracted families on the way to the Grand Canyon that ended up needing legal representation.
Most of the clients that stepped into our office were either African American or Hispanic – and while a few were most certainly in possession of some sort of illegal substance (usually pot, but occasionally heroin….these were the golden years before Meth completely changed the landscape) – many more were only guilty of possibly ignoring seatbelt laws or speed limits while also participating in the one activity that was most certain to rouse suspicion…
They happened to be driving while black/brown.
“Sure,” you say, “perhaps it looked that way, but you can’t really prove it. Maybe they truly were driving poorly or suspiciously. And if they weren’t actually doing anything wrong, then what’s the harm?”
Well, despite the fact that we are all entitled to travel our nations highways and byways free of police harassment or government intervention (check out the Commerce Clause of the 5th amendment and the Heart of Atlanta Supreme Court decision if you doubt me), it’s also flippant (and, honestly, a bit naïve) to dismiss the harassment of others and place the burden of establishing virtue and blamelessness on the suspect rather than the investigator.
As every child knows, in this country we operate under the assumption that a person is innocent until proven guilty.
So what, if anything, does my pontificating have to do with the idea that knowledge is power.
Well…I’m getting to that (though I’m most definitely taking the long way around).
After seeing (and hearing) multiple examples of I-40 DWBs ending up in the Needles court (charges that were, more often than not, dismissed but not without prejudice – ask yourself, do you have enough money in your checking account to cover an impound charge, a tow and perhaps a speeding ticket and attorney’s fees? And no, you can’t just “charge it”), the attorney I worked for decided that the since the one thing these stops didn’t have in common was culpability, the officers must be acting on other orders or guidelines.
We started to keep records, and a certain pattern emerged – minority drivers were most certainly being stopped in disproportionate numbers. But it wasn’t enough to document the infractions and court appearances. In order to genuinely make the case, we had to know how many other drivers were stopped but allowed to go on their way with a warning, and we needed to know the race of all those drivers. In order to conclusively prove what we saw happening before our eyes every day, we needed data: data that CHP was not shy in admitting it had, but data that was nevertheless inaccessible to us.
We tried all manner of petition and court filing to get our hands on that information – and we were constantly denied under the guise of “irrelevance” or “operating procedure” or “administrative determinations.”
What’s the big deal, you might be thinking, who cares who the CHP stops and lets go?
So if it’s “no big deal”…if they aren’t doing anything wrong…then why not let us just take a look? Let us poke around the back of their driver’s seat and snoop in their glove compartment. Let us pull out all the passengers from their car and pepper them with confusing and disorienting questions on the side of the road, in the sweltering summer heat or piercing winter wind, as semi’s blast by and dust covers everything.
If they’re innocent, why should the inconvenience matter? Why can’t they be “good sports” and prove us wrong?
Because, more likely than not, the information their hiding is inflammatory and incriminating.
Because, more likely than not, that information is powerful…so powerful it could knock an entire law enforcement agency on its heels and invoke the scrutiny and authority of the US Supreme Court.
As a senator in Illinois, President Obama successfully passed legislation that did, in fact, track and monitor racial profiling. By making everyone accountable, the data ended up aiding law enforcement just as much as citizenry.
As the President explained in his recent statements about the Zimmerman verdict, “initially, the police departments across the state were resistant, but actually they came to recognize that if it was done in a fair, straightforward way that it would allow them to do their jobs better and communities would have more confidence in them and, in turn, be more helpful in applying the law. And obviously, law enforcement has got a very tough job.”
When everyone had access to the information, everyone was empowered and justice became not only tangible, but attainable.
When I hear President Obama say that one way to foster a better relationship between minority communities and law enforcement agencies is through data collection, the little constitutional law nerd that slumbers in my heart rises up and cheers. The rule of law can be abused and twisted and manipulated, but when it is honored and respected, great things can be accomplished: when we are all treated fairly and face the same burdens and benefits, then we can truly call ourselves a great society.
“…we have to be vigilant, and we have to work on these issues,” the President said. “And those of us in authority should be doing everything we can to encourage the better angels of our nature, as opposed to using these episodes to heighten divisions. But we should also have confidence that kids these days, I think, have more sense than we did back then, and certainly more than our parents did or our grandparents did; and that along this long, difficult journey, we’re becoming a more perfect union — not a perfect union, but a more perfect union.
You can read the entire transcript of the President’s speech here.
And by all means, contact me if you’d like more details about my work in Needles – I don’t want to bog down this post with too many anecdotes and political rants, but in the 12 months I worked out there, I was constantly and consistently shocked by what I saw – experiences I’m happy to relate if you’re interested. Information that could make a powerful difference in the way you see the world.
Ranting, raving and the art of the angry word-purge…
By Elizabeth Cutright
Love it or hate it, one of the biggest opportunities provided by the Internet is the ability to rant (or rave, though that seems to happen less often) to a larger, theoretical audience. In real life, when you spout off, pontificate or soap box, you run the risk of triggering a real-time response from someone standing right in front of you. There’s a chance you could alienate real friends and tangible acquaintances.
So what do you do when it’s too risky to yell in public (even pouting is not without its ramifications)? Well, you take to the ever-loving interwebs, of course. Online, you can safely face-off against the mindless masses, the anonymous preachers, the cyber-bossy-betty’s.
Online, your audience is only limited by your bandwidth
But sometimes, just when you’re prepared to take down a trolling commentator or other various troglodytes, the comments streams overwhelms you. Could all these people really believe the idiotic things they’re writing? Could there really be this many racist, homophobe misogynist ass-wipes in the world?
Are we all doomed??
Do not despair my little aspiring creatives – all that confusion and deepening sense of doom can be wrestled into something meaningful.
Writing-while-mad is sometimes the best instigator of creative output, once you let go of the reigns and let the angry take you where you need to go.
There’s a different rhythm and cadence to your words when they come from a place of passionate fury. When your grievances boil up to a breaking point, it’s easy to unleash adjectives, letters and punctuation marks (Bang! Boom! Zing*&##!!) Zealous prose is fueled by fury, wrath and righteous resentment.
Take all that negative energy and turn it in a more positive direction by writing it all out. Anger can get you to the page and after a few whiny paragraphs, you will more likely than not find yourself knee deep in something a little more thoughtful, a little more insightful, than you might have initially anticipated.
Maybe you’ll get to the crux of the story – that motivating factor you’ve been trying to excavate while your well-rounded characters wander around the landscape in search of a plot. Maybe through those tears of rage, you’ll see a light emerging – that proverbial beacon at the end of the long dark tunnel – and you’ll change course and head in confidently in a better direction. Maybe you’ll bang out a paragraph, a page or a chapter fueled on nothing but irritation stoked by righteous disbelief.
Perhaps your anger is a responsibility – a scratchy bug-bite road post alerting you to the importance of what you have to say to the world. Think of Martin Luther nailing those demands on the stout wooden doors of the powers-that-be. Think of Martin Luther King Jr energizing a nation and changing the world. Think of all those folks who decided that they were mad as hell and not only were they not going to take it anymore, they were going to try to engender positive change.
But listen – don’t get intimidated by those examples. Perhaps you’ve been waylaid today by a petty little annoyance – that “small stuff” we’re all supposed to NOT be sweating. I get it. I myself am often irritated by all manner of injustices of varying proportion and importance.
Today my anger is directed at events writ large on the world stage and etched out in tiny relief between my cubicle walls. I could’ve sat and stewed about it all. I could’ve posted a scathing Facebook update (“that’ll show ‘em!”), or composed a withering tweet heavy with destructive force and a “oh no you didn’t” reverb.
Instead I came to the page. I wrote a couple/few hundred words about what’s up with me and where I’m at, and I came away with a blog post. Maybe later I’ll step off this leg up and write something with a little more power and a little more influence. Could be I’ll just file this away and move on to bigger and (hopefully) better things.
Nevertheless, I should give a slight little nod of appreciation to my anger. It got me here, and now maybe it’ll inspire you to get to where you need to be.
Still need to unleash an online rant – Buzzfeed’s got ya covered (http://www.buzzfeed.com/katienotopoulos/how-to-argue-on-the-internet-as-explained-by-bugs-bunny)
- Anger! (jwalkergs.wordpress.com)