Friday, August 08, 2008

Writer's Block

Just for the record, I don't get writer's bock. I can always put words down, it's just that sometimes they're crap. To me, anyway. Writing is so many things- recording events and interpreting them, therapy and teaching, sharing knowledge and emotion. I like my writing best when I am excited, when I am playing with a new idea or see a twist in the world that changes everything.

The things that I am finding now are sometimes big, shifting my view of how the world works several paces- and there are very few that I will be able to write about for a long time. I've always been taught that language affects and to an extent controls thought processes, but I have concrete examples now. Examples that some of our 'obvious' insights are culturally derived and culturally controlled. That some of the values we have been taught are universal are demonstrably not. Some of these I knew but until you see it up close, see the effects, and see the indifference to affects that would enrage or sadden you, you don't really know. I knew the words before, I hear the music now.

Here is one I can share, in very vague terms. There are things that we look at from a world and culture away and interpret them through the lens of politics and big money when the decisions on the ground are made much lower on the Maslow's Hierarchy scale. In the United States we see the actions of others, high and low, through the lens of our own motivations: profit, power, acknowledgement. For the most part we have never been in a place where people starve (much less a place where it is normal). Everyone has an opinion, and we express it pretty freely (there are a few places in my home state where a republican bumpersticker will reliably get your car vandalized, but that's about it). In a place where associations and opinions result in murder (unpredictable to you, but far from random) politics and the flow of funds aren't the big motivators that we expect them to be. Simple survival requires a different attitude to what is said and when and to whom.

And one I will write about someday: Violent bloody butchery does not scar the sould of a people nearly as much as a lower level of destruction brought about through betrayal.

So, access is limited, many of the things that would be cool to write are off the table...and most of the rest doesn't feel fresh or fun to write, but I'll keep plugging away.


Kami said...

Just remember to turn off your inner critic. We've talked about conversations before--how sometimes you used to miss deep conversations with people because you didn't get past the idle banter weather talk. You used to not interact long enough for the deep stuff to burble up.

I've found the same thing goes for writing sometimes. Not always, but sometimes I have to write 500 words of stuff that's not working for me before I even start to type about 250 words that get to the heart of things. It's easy to chop all that excess way once you're done.

Unknown said...

This is going to sound a little lame maybe but your mention of survival impacted on me. I could understand desperation overtaking in place of complacency.

Recently, as gas prices soared and budgets were screwed ever more wildly, I have watched the people around me in my small town with it's huge rate of unemployment get more and more quietly desperate and wonder if it will lead, just that simply, to a revolt.

For the first time, in probably forever, I'm in fear for my country. How far can people be pushed to starvation, homelessness, and hopelessness before their basic values change?