Tag Archives: expression

The Fires of Passion

In the midst of writing about the recent attack on the Charlie Hebdo office in Paris, I found myself caught up in the idea of writing and speaking and drawing and expressing for what you believe in. Putting every bit of your soul and your energy into getting something down and/or out that you feel strongly about, speaking loudly, if not yelling, about a change you know should happen.

With passion, all things are possible. With a fire in your heart and a frenzy in your head, you can accomplish and achieve in ways you never thought you were capable of.

When we let loose with this fire, it can spread wildly, across whatever it is that you’ve unleashed it on. Whether it’s political injustice, or the careen of a space ship around asteroids, our outlet for this is suddenly much easier to work through. Typing becomes fevered and fervent, you lose track of time easily while drawing, finishing or coming out of the frenzy leaves you in a daze, your paints leaving behind a trail of your efforts.

Removed from the equation, passion is instead replaced with other things, but the need for expression never really dies. Whether it’s depression or agitation, we’re spurred on by a desire of some caliber that tells us to go forth and release what we’ve had stored up and waiting. It helps us feel better or it gets us to evaluate what’s going on.

To see change, was one of the first phrases I remember used to describe satire. It finds a way to crack open and show the glaring faults in something, whether it’s unethical, legally wrong, ignorant, blaspheming or any number of other things, and brings it all to light. In some cases (see: not Animal Farm) satire can be funny. It’s tongue-in-cheek, a subtle but painful jab. The point is that it is a way of expressing that something is wrong, and being sarcastic or ironic about it in a way that gets attention.

The power of censorship means to take that voice and bury it as deep in the ground as it’ll go. Whether it’s done by gunpoint or by the threat of legality, censorship is everyone’s problem. With it, there is no room or freedom to speak your mind, there is no way you can write or paint or sculpt or create in the style you do or want.

As Evelyn Beatrice Hall once said about Voltaire’s beliefs, “I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it.”

With more and more details coming out about the shooting, the deaths of the suspects, and of course, the stunning displays of solidarity in the face of terrorism, I find myself at a loss of words. It is nothing short of gorgeous to see what has come from such a horrendous massacre.

Passion, from pain. When one voice yells, the whole world shouts back.

We need expression, to free ourselves, to see the emotion and the fire we hold manifest into something else. To transform, alone, together, singularly or fully, as one. No matter if it is about something ethical, or if it is an idea for a story you’ve been working on and chipping away at for years, stifling the voice kills not only creativity, but individuality.

Extremists may seek to silence the voices that shout at them and their religion, but they cannot silence us all. Least of all can they do so when we stand together.

Thank you.

-The Novice Wordsmith

Guest Post: Pain and Penning it Out

Some of the best writing of my life came from when I was in a lot of pain, and I didn’t want to write.   But I had a journal then, and sometimes from great pain came great inspiration.  It’s a lot easier to describe pain when you’re in it — it’s kinda like method acting in that you understand how it feels because you’re feeling it.

Now, I’m not condoning getting smashed out drunk, or taking drugs, or causing bodily harm to yourself or someone else to experience it first hand just so you can write about it, but rather, to take advantage of any pain you’re currently in to sort it out in words.
There’s a stress reduction method called ‘journaling the problem’ — it’s effectively writing out what’s bothering you so that way you quit internalizing it.

Write with the freedom of knowledge that you can delete anything you write at the end, though to be effective, you’ll want to keep it instead, so you can see where you’ve been and how you’ve fared since then.
Art sometimes imitates life.  In that sense, you can characterize a situation in a story by giving your characters the ability to handle a similar situation — do they do better or worse?   Do they take a different path with different choices?
Then there is the aspect of physical and emotional pain, and what it does to your ability to cope.    Heroes should not be able to hop out of bed hours after being shot, and a sprained ankle doesn’t just impair running away from zombie hordes, but often prevents you from even standing on it.   It can last for days, too.
Then there are moods; high and low, angry and sad, happy and excited, confused and contrite.   Using the idea of ‘show don’t tell’ in another form, how do you describe feeling blue?
“Inherently, I didn’t give a damn what happened to her.   She was having one of her patented meltdowns, the kind that made her unpleasant to be around, because she would make these unreasonable demands on you, your time, and your efforts, and then treat you like you were the crappiest friend a girl could have.
Today wasn’t a day I could deal with that sort of crisis.   I was having one of those days where I just wanted to go back to bed, even though I wasn’t tired, and the idea of pulling the pillows up on top of me and blocking out anything but their comforting weight and semi-concealment sounded really appealing.
But that would require energy and effort, and braving the wrath of my boss, who frowned on ‘taking mental health days’ because Sally, down the hall, used that as an excuse to take a trip to Cancun.”
Realize that your mind and mood are like a place in a way; and so is your physical “state”, to turn a phrase.    The next time you get down, or really high up, don’t just visit.  Write a journal entry about the experience,  take mental pictures, that sort of thing — and start your library of experiential learning ideas that can form a ready-made reference for the next time you put your characters through a similar situation.  Treat anything you can experience outside of your  normal baseline as a possibility, even something as ordinary as working up a sweat:
Ira shambled back to his chair, letting gravity drag him back into it as he felt the blood still pounding in his ears.   He grabbed clumsily at the sports bottle full of tepid water from the water cooler and chugged it;  his face felt hot and his shirt was soaked in several places.   He peeled it away from his chest and swiped underneath with the gym towel in an attempt to get dry; it didn’t work very well, since his body just produced sweat faster than he could blot it up.
“Next time… walk.”  he told himself as sweat dripped down his nose.   “Running in this weather is a good way to get yourself in the ER.”
Good notes form the beginnings of an outline checklist item.    The written word has more power when it comes to telling a story if you do the homework to relate what it felt like to you when it happened to you, instead of just expressing a condition in a few words.   It also makes you think of alternatives to reusing tropes and trope expressions:
Before: “He labored at the giant novel through blood, sweat, and tears.”    (Me: “I’ve worked on novels.   It’s not like that at all!”)
After:  He labored at the giant novel late into the night, until his fingers were aching from all the typing, and he was having trouble focusing on the screen.   His mind kept wandering off, as if to tell him he ought to have been in bed hours ago, and he’d retyped the same typo four times in a row.
Bottom line:  Make the pain fit the deed.   Take notes on anything that you might find interesting to write about later.   You never know when you’ll be able to use it.