I used to think that art was the ultimate escape from society and the issues we’re plagued with. But that’s the thing with growing up, you realize the cowardice in escapism and find better ways to handle the imperfections of the world we live in. Sure we all need a break sometimes. That’s a given, but that doesn’t mean you have to block everything out.
Seeing the positive between the negative is the only true way to capture life through art. You can write your pain and get it out. There are many methods to writing, music, and all art. Based on where my successes lay, writers often sell themselves short by only focusing on their pain. It is good to pour your heart out from a hurtful experience, but wallowing seems to darken the light and overshadow those precious moments in life where things do turn out right.
My most successful non-fiction piece is about what I went through when I tried to kill myself as a 16 year old adolescent who had faced abuse and neglect. Some would find it quite depressing. To me, it is a story of experience that was meant to show how some of the roughest times in our life can lead to better avenues. The end of the story is not about suffering and pain because despite how many trials we all suffer in life, there are always those moments of triumph where you can pull yourself up if you really try.
I’ve also written funny pieces about my children and am currently trying to wrap up a middle grade story about silly aliens. Balance has always been the most important element in my writing. When I worked on, The Golden Rule, Obama was in office, the economy was doing okay, and my mixed neighborhood had yet to deal with the St. Louis riots. Some people may think I specifically wrote, “The Golden Rule” as a response to the hate groups that have crawled out of the cracks recently. I sometimes wish that were true.
I have always been the loudmouth who won’t hesitate to fight someone’s ignorance. But this book wasn’t written in an angry passion. It wasn’t meant to preach kindness for the sole purpose of fighting hate; it was merely a story that needed to be told. I was shocked to find that nothing like it existed and so I decided it was time it should.
I sat down and wrote something nice and it has received critical acclaim and already snagged an award. Intentions mean everything to me. Instead of pointing fingers at what’s wrong, I often find leading by example and emphasizing what works to help myself and my work flourish. It also works with relationships (although I slip up and lose my cool like everybody else) and social interactions.
Starting small and allowing something to build as it develops is often more effective than some big grab. Pushing a piece of writing beyond the natural process just for the sake of shock or to pump it out faster so you can get it out sooner may work in some cases, but the longer I write the more I realize that taking your time to really make sure everything balances out is best.
When my readers delve into a story of mine, I don’t wish for them to be completely shut off from the world. It is my hope that they find themselves in my world and see how it connects to reality. That isn’t for me to control, but it’s always the goal. We can relax and enjoy some time away from the issues surrounding us without completely forgetting who we are.