All writers have a process that allows them to create. However, the art of "Writing" is often mistaken for that "Process." Hopefully this blog explains the difference, and inspires people to develop their crafts, become writers, or just keep on writing.

Friday, September 15, 2023

The Controversy of the Written Word

I am not sure how many of my readers have heard about this, but several libraries in my region received bomb threats or some kind of scare just yesterday - apparently all of them connected but ultimately false. This particular false alarm hit particularly close to home for me because one of the threats was directed at a library where I attend a workshop. More importantly, it threatened to interrupt an Open Mic night being held at the coffee shop in that very library. This made it personal. While Open Mic night went on as planned, I felt a need to use my platform and say a few things about things like bomb threats and what they represent.

(And I promise, this all comes back to writing.)

Apparently, initial reports suggest that whoever the knuckleheads were who sent in these bomb threats, their big grudge was about certain libraries having certain books on their shelves. And unless you've been hiding under a rock in Madagascar for the last few years, you will know that such grudges are not uncommon. It seems that for some reason, more people are getting mad about what's in libraries, in print, or just generally available for the public to consume. Whether the offensive subject is about race, gender, profanity, mysticism or religion, or just content in general, there are people who think it's best if you don't see it. And these people have openly volunteered to make your decisions for you by protesting libraries, getting lawmakers all riled up, or in some cases, phoning in bomb threats.

Now, people who defend such actions usually avoid using the term, "book banning" (possibly because it sounds like the next step, "book burning"), and prefer to say that some content shouldn't be publicly available where certain sensitive groups might read it and become monsters or something (it's a little vague on how a book about, say, penguins can transform someone into a social deviant). However, when fringe groups raise their voices against what other people shouldn't read, it has another effect - perhaps intended. Sometimes, writers start to think, "I want to write a certain story, but will it rock the boat? Is it going too far? Should I write such a story?"

At that point, my advice is, "Write it! Write it now! Write it in bold-face letters!" When fringes of society start making the mainstream question what we should create, our inner author should want to create things that much more edgy and controversial, if only because they push the social dialogue through the written word. Our writing, our creating, serves more of a purpose than telling a story. We communicate ideas, reveal secrets, and yes, shine a bright light on some things people wish to leave in the shadows. It could be said that in times like these, we have a responsibility to fight back against the bomb-scare crowd with our own weapons - our words, our stories, our messages.

Serendipitously, the week of September 24-30 is Banned Books Week. During this week, a number of libraries hold events where they showcase various works that different groups wanted to hide from the public at some point or another. On behalf of every library and every author out there, I invite you to go to your local library and check out a few of these banned books. See just what some people are trying to keep you from thinking about. Then go back home and write something bold and controversial. Contribute to the discussion, or start your own. And don't let anything stop you.

Not even a stupid bomb scare.            

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