At sixty-seven years of age, I most certainly can vouch for the saying, “You’re never too old to learn.”
At this point who said it first and when they said it is immaterial. The point is, what I just learned about myself and how I learned it.
It’s a good thing my stories don’t come with webcam enabled as I write because all my writing brothers and sisters and my readers would see me with globs of gooey egg on my face.
Recently (yesterday), I wrote a piece that came off not only tinged with biting sarcasm but as a stream of anger brewing just beneath the surface. A lot of what my writing friends picked up on it.
Truth be told, I wasn’t quite expecting the response I got.
But then, I never do.
That’s because, typically, when I write with righteous indignation and spew fire, I’m thinking in the back of my mind I’m doing it for a noble cause. Somehow, I convince myself I am passionately stirring the cauldron of injustice, doing my part to right wrongs, and prove the pen is indeed mightier than the sword.
What could be more noble and lofty than being a freedom fighter with words?
And then a conversation with my darling wife and feedback from you writing friends of mine managed to hold a mirror up and force me to take a hard look at myself.
What I saw was, in most cases, my rants (according to my honey, there have been a ton of them) weren’t done to expose the longtime suffering of the downtrodden and the innocent. Not even close. My rants were all about me and how angry I was about things happening to me.
Most of them were all about me.
D*mn. They didn’t even come close to being righteous.
Even some of my stories I didn’t think were angry displayed an undertow of frustration surging between the lines. Stories I thought were nothing more than cute little tongue-in-cheek satirical slams revealed unwritten but palpable anger.
I never viewed my work that way, from that perspective. Until I received some comments from fellow writers and my wife.
I’ve never really looked at this before but I now understand something I should have known all the while. The thing is, especially for one who’s attempting to maintain a daily online presence as I am, a writer exposes him/her self to their reading audience.
Actually, more than they realize.
Bit by bit, article by article, a writer who truly seeks to be authentic and honest with their readers has to write both. And with each piece, a writer reveals a little more of themselves; pulls the curtain back further and further.
Ultimately, a writer reveals things through their writing they never intended to show. Things they never thought they were announcing to the public.
Things like constant anger and frustration.
From my perspective, when I write angry, I’ve got a tendency to turn a plowshare into a weapon and point it at whatever or whoever pisses me off. I really don’t think I’ve got the market on this. A lot of us writers “light the fires” from time to time.
But when writing angry starts becoming a trend, starts becoming the only emotion a reader feels, then a writer is effectively masking all the other feelings and emotions.
Writing from an angry place all the time only provides the reader with a single dimension, a flat, spiteful, messy one-dimensional perspective.
Something a reader can certainly do without.
Writing angry all the time will do nothing for a writer except burn away all the other emotions a writer needs to experience and write about. It will mask hope, suffocate inspiration and desire, thwart appreciation for beautiful things such as nature and art.
So here’s the deal, and here’s why I’m writing this piece.
Three days ago, I wrote a story, as yet unpublished, which could quite possibly curl the nose hairs of a reader. No, not from the foul smell. From the heat. Although the smelly thing is an option, I suppose.
This piece was a rant of such epic proportions when I read it to my wife (my lovely sounding board) she stared at me for a full five minutes, her face actually blushing.
I honestly believe at that very moment she was embarrassed for me.
Based on her reaction, I made the decision to hold off on publishing it. In fact, I may never post it.
Yeah, it was one of those. It was supposed to be a cathartic session for me, a way to purge the demons so to speak.
But by laying out what troubled me on paper it had the exact opposite effect. It only incensed me more every single time I read it.
Because I made the decision to hold off on the one, I knew I needed to write another in its place. I did some research on a topic I was interested in, wrote the story, and published it.
Then I went on my merry way.
The story I wrote wasn’t supposed to have so much anger in it, but from the comments I received after publishing it, evidently, it did.
I’d written that next piece, never realizing my anger from writing the previous article, my constant frustration and exasperation I felt while I was writing the rant stayed with me.
And it bled into the next story.
I firmly believe if it hadn’t been for my lovely wife and a lot of you folks, my anger and frustration would have found its way into a lot of my future stories.
It’s interesting to note for the longest time, I had a rage inside of me that was very difficult to tame most days. My wife and I spoke of this last night, and she reminded me how much I’ve changed over the years.
And I have to admit I really like the person I’ve come to be, the Human I was always meant to be, a much kinder, self-aware fellow who actually is proud of a lot of accomplishments.
But by virtue of my Human condition, sometimes I slip.
A lot of times I fall.
There will come a time when I will probably rage again, a time when I may rant. And surely there will come times when I must reel myself back and douse the flame of anger so I can write beautiful things again.
But I will learn because I have learned, and I can learn again.
Even at this age, I’m still learning things about myself through my writing. I humbly submit I have many more words to write and just as many lessons to learn before I’m finished.
Thanks for Listening
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