Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Writing to Pick Subjects Apart

Does writing have to hurt somebody?

Can what is written please everybody and get received across the board without criticism or concern?

Hardly. Everybody brings to reading their agenda, their biases.

It's no different for the writer. The writer brings biases to the table in dissertation. I don't know of any way around that.

My writing has a focus, at least it seems that way to me. What got me writing more seriously to begin with was a friend telling me his wife was leaving him for an older man who had a reputation as a polygamist. My friend and his wife had children, like me, and I couldn't fathom losing both my wife and my children to an older man who ascribed to something as crass and ugly as polygamy. So, in dealing myself with the trauma the situation of my friend faced, I started writing about a scenario enough like it that I thought I could get some resolution or understanding from it. Of course, it was a fiction, a creation of my mind, only partially related to the actual situation as I understood it.

I finished the novel --- as revised, it has almost 120,000 words --- of the scenario I crafted based upon the premise of a wife leaving her husband and taking her kids to be with a polygamist.

The next writing project I undertook had me contemplating Al Qaeda, the invasion of Iraq, war, and the consequences to family when a family member is lost fighting abroad. Not only that, but the notion of religious fanaticism that causes men and women, and even children, to sacrifice themselves to create death care in others for political ends. I wrote about 100-120 pages on that project and put it on the back burner. There were some problems with the beginning of the story and its setting and the environment that I wanted to percolate with the full intention of returning to it later.

As I analyze it now, it also involved scenarios for which I felt emotionally drained: self-sacrifice to kill others and push a political/religious agenda; the death and loss of a father of a family due to military service in a war abroad that had devolved into a morass of involvement that should probably never have happened to begin with; and the prejudice in America of those who are outside of the norm.

My next project --- the one item most actively working on presently --- involves the family of immigrants from Mexico to the United States who don't have documentation. The protagonist is a boy who was born on the Mexican side of the border just before his parents crossed the border into the United States the first time. The story is set when the boy is fourteen and the family has lived in the United States all that time, and for the most part during that history they faced no dire consequences for being in the United States without legal documentation. However, as the United States economy started to tank, the heat on them as immigrants without documentation start to rise, and their lives became much more difficult and complex.

So most of what I choose to write about seems to involve questions I have about the nature of things in the world around me, usually, things I have no control over but have an emotional impact on me because they seem like they would have a grave emotional and physical impact upon people in those situations.

I suppose this is somewhat the process of all people who try to write.

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