Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Why I Think Writing Matters

The written word is a thing of beauty and also profound power. In the wrong hands, it can do a lot of damage. But when wielded carefully and thoughtfully, it is humankind’s most powerful, equitable, and accessible agent for change.

People today have more access to more writing than at any time in human history. It’s pretty amazing when you think about it. People once transcribed copies of the bible in painstaking pen and ink, by hand, for aristocracy. Then the printing press came along, and books were suddenly accessible to ordinary people.

The internet is definitely the printing press of our time. 

For all its pitfalls, social media and the internet have catalyzed major global social movements and raised awareness about many of the world’s injustices through pictures and video, but more fundamentally, through writing. And writing, of course, can be the undoing of people who probably should be undone, as we’ve most recently seen with misogynists whose own dangerous online “anonymous” rantings against women may cost them their livelihood.

I started this blog just under a year ago, and I didn’t really know what I was doing. I always knew that I loved to write, and that I had ideas, and that I could assimilate ideas into words quickly. But I didn’t really have a plan or a goal for the blog. I still don’t, but I am starting to realize why I continue to write it anyway.

Writing in general--and writing One Hot Mess in particular--is both therapy and activism for me. I do it every day. I write professionally (and very differently) in a world far away from this blog, and I also write for the same reasons some people go running or practice yoga: To feel healthy and whole.

There is not a single word on this blog that I’m ashamed to have written or that I wouldn’t want the whole world to read, despite the sometimes raw, revelatory, and occasionally (ok, often) profane nature of those words. I love when people read and share my posts, not for my own ego (of course there’s that), but more because of what I take it to mean when they do.

To me, it means that my writing is serving a purpose and resonating with people in a real way. It made someone laugh. It touched someone. It inspired something. I did something (hopefully something good) for another human being, simply by putting some written words out into the world that weren’t there yesterday.

Below is a screen shot of a message I received on Twitter from the blogger that broke the Asheville misogyny story that I covered in my last two posts. Her community is reeling from the discovery that two despicable de facto sexual predators whose own writings, in part, exposed them, were secretly living and doing business in their town, and their community is struggling with what to do about it. In the meantime, something I wrote evidently provided something that she and her friends needed today (albeit, in this case, at the expense of someone else who undeniably and admittedly deserves it).

That’s all that most writers—professional, amateur, and everywhere in between—ever really want to do. 
And ever should do.                                   

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