For quite a while now, but especially after the American election, I've come across many articles, webposts, and facebook comments reminding writers of their importance in society. Ours is the privilege and the power to influence hearts. What we write matters.
It has stopped me from writing.
This is not the fault of the bloggers or commenters. It is all within me. Like most authors, I want to create something meaningful. And like many people of my generation, I want to help strengthen and heal this broken world which is increasingly burning away. But each time I sit to compose a poem or story that addresses the important issues of our time ... that has meaning, or even a quality of beauty or song which might inspire readers to find meaning elsewhere in their lives ... the weight of it all clogs my heart and leaves me silent.
I try to remind myself that a story has its own business with readers, and I'm just the intermediary. I never really know what will touch people. (If I did, I'd be writing popular webposts all the time!) The way I've always worked is highly organic. I sit down, open my heart, and let story flow through it. Sometimes I'll start with a piece of art, sometimes a sentence out of nowhere, sometimes an image of a scene that I am curious about, sometimes just a feeling. This process becomes immediately blocked when I introduce the idea that I must write something important, meaningful, inspiring, helpful.
I personally can not be an agent of anything other than story.
It hurts. I long to be the sort of author who writes profound tales. Tales people think are worth talking about on instagram because they want to be part of the message. I am always so grateful when my writing is shared - not because I want fame, but because it means my words are helpful. But the truth is, I was given a quiet voice. A small life. The stories that come to me are small and quiet too, intimate, and absolutely not special. More often than not they're fantasy - and not a rich, mythic kind of fantasy, but just tales about kings with blood-stained crowns, sorcerers too frightened to do the real magic of the heart, and dragons awoken to pain. I like them. I sometimes find them hard to let go. If they were children, they would not be the dux of their school, or prodigious young poets; they would be ordinary children, beloved by their mother but otherwise just part of the crowd.
That should be enough. And for a long while, it has been. For a long while, I wrote from love and my own pleasure in writing. But now there is a deepening sense of obligation. It's not just that I should use my voice for the consolation of society or to promote change. It's simpler than that - I should write because that is what I am called to do, and since everywhere rightness is being destroyed, I should do what is right in my life.
All of this is true, good, and wise. But all of it is noise that clogs my essential creative silence and disturbs my private, intimate romance with Story. And so nothing flows.