the Unending Journey of the Wandering Author

A chronicle of the unending journey of the Wandering Author through life, with notes and observations made along the way. My readers should be aware I will not censor comments that disagree with me, but I do refuse to display comment spam or pointless, obscene rants. Humans may contact me at thewanderingauthor at yahoo dot com - I'll reply as I am able.

Location: New England, United States

I have always known I was meant to write, even when I was too young to know the word 'author'. When I learned that books were printed, I developed an interest in that as well. And I have always been a wanderer, at least in my mind. It's not the worst trait in an author. For more, read my writing; every author illuminates their heart and soul on the pages they write upon.

Monday, March 12, 2007

Courage or Cowardice?

How should a writer respond to outrages such as the one I wrote about below? I don't ask this question in order to put anyone else on the spot. It is my belief each of us must make the best of our lives in our own fashion. I don't know anyone else's heart, or the deeds they do in secret. So if you've settled this question to your own satisfaction, I have no right to say your answer is the wrong one.

Even if you pursue a different course than I believe is wise, you may be right and I may be wrong, or each of us may be, in different ways, right. You may do more to make the world a better place than I ever manage to do. I ask the question because it is one I wrestle with. I am not satisfied that I have found the best answer.

When I learn of suffering and injustice, should I set aside the writing I'd like to be doing, and write endless articles in the hope someone will take notice? Or, should I learn about these things, absorb them, and then write whatever I am inclined to, trusting that my sensibilities will come through and influence my readers? One way, I am unhappy and it seems that no one ever listens.

The other way seems so inadequate, so selfish, even if there are examples of authors whose fiction has helped to shape the opinions of a society. I understand one of the reasons the media won't cover these stories; most people are tired of hearing about them, worn out with learning of tragedies it seems they can do nothing to prevent. I, too, am tired of hearing about them.

I'd like nothing more than to know that the outrages were ended, there was no need to hear of them or think of them any more. But that isn't the way the world works. So, as a writer, I have to ask myself the question, "What should I do? How can I best help?" Writing is my greatest talent, however limited that talent may be. And those who are weary of thinking about such things are more likely to read my thoughts if they're slipped into a work of fiction.

Yet, as any fiction writer knows, you can't write a thinly disguised tract and have it entertain anyone. Yes, I could churn out a melodrama within a few weeks, complete with sympathetic victims and posturing, horribly evil villains. And no one would want to read it, and even if they did, it would not do justice to the complexity of the subject.

You can't force fiction. I have to write the ideas that come to me. Will the right idea ever arrive? I have no way of knowing. Which way lies courage, and which way cowardice? I will probably continue to do as I have so far, writing fiction, and occasionally howling out in words of grief and rage when I learn of some more unbearable tragedy.

What does that make me? Am I a coward for not confronting these issues head on? Or would I simply be wasting my effort, doing nothing but easing my own conscience? The final decision is mine, I bear the responsibility, but I welcome the opinions of any of my readers who feel they have any answers. And I fear, whatever decision I make, I will never be wholly at peace with it as long as hatred takes its awful toll on the innocent.

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Anonymous Moof said...

Please forgive me for an off topic comment ...

I wanted to thank you for your comment on my blog, and even more for causing me to discover yours! I can see that I have some reading to catch up on! :o)

You're in New England? I'm in extreme southwestern Maine. I wonder if we happen to be nearby.

Regarding your post: there are so many injustices in the world! How do you choose which are are more, or less, important? Is it more important if it's happening close to home? Less if we think it can't happen in our own day and age?

What I think is that a person should write about whatever hits him in the heart. Each cause grows its own champions. A caring individual will always be disturbed and upset when hearing about injustices, but he can't champion each cause ... that in itself would be an injustice, both to him, and to those who care about him.

Be at peace, and know that sometimes, caring truly is enough.

March 13, 2007 7:54 AM  
Blogger anna said...

You have to follow what you want to do, what you believe is right.

Doing anything other than what you feel is right, is pointless in my opinion.

Life's too short to short change yourself, or worry about what other's think.

March 13, 2007 10:05 AM  
Anonymous wolfbaby said...

I think there is a happy balance and you have found it. I also think moof is a wise person and she gives good advice.

March 13, 2007 3:03 PM  
Blogger The Wandering Author said...

Moof, I'm in southeastern Mass. I hate to think how long it's been since I've been to Maine; I love it up there, but just never seem to get the chance...
I hope to start reading your blog more regularly, if I can find any 'spare time', which is an oxymoron if there ever was one. :-D
I suspect you're wiser than I am; some subjects just tear at me so, I wish there were a way to do more.

Anna, I agree with you, and I'm not worried about what anyone else thinks. I believe what is right is whatever would actually do the most good. But what is that?

Thanks, wolfbaby. The thought that perhaps I could do more just haunts me sometimes.

March 14, 2007 1:35 AM  
Blogger Susan Abraham said...

Dear Ray,
I believe any thought will survive as long as it's intelligently placed and compassionately offered.
Such is the freedom accounted to the individual a mere opinion qualifies for self-reflection.
I say believe in yourself and your words.
A writer may just have the greater power.
Really, really loved this post, Ray. :-)

March 14, 2007 6:48 AM  
Blogger The Wandering Author said...

Thank you, Susan. You're right, and your answer shows a wisdom I know I should follow. Sometimes, the thought of such tragedies is just so overwhelming, I doubt anything that doesn't make them fade away overnight.

March 15, 2007 12:15 AM  
Anonymous Amin said...

WA, I'm afraid that topic is rather a difficult one to ponder without feeling guilty.

Hmm. What can we do? I think we have to be who we are, even if we think we could be somebody else. We play the hand we get dealt the best way we can.

I know that sounds like a bit of a cop-out, but honestly I don't think it is. I did a lot of volunteer work when I was a young man. It cost me my relationship - which probably says more about the relationship than the work - but in the end I was left with the feeling that my real contribution had been very little.

So little had changed in the world, you see.

I think when you see clearly it makes it harder to ignore things. But I don't think it makes it easier to change things.

Or maybe that's just me letting myself off the hook

March 15, 2007 12:21 PM  

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