Writers write. We have to and the prospect of years toiling in obscurity doesn’t seem to dissuade us. But that’s not the why I’m talking about. Digging deeper, perhaps the real question is, what are you wrestling with? Why do you write?
I was reading about the new movie with Mel Gibson, The Beaver, along with the comments about Gibson in social media and it got me to thinking about forgiveness. This dovetailed with a very long conversation with a very wise woman who was telling me about a mistake she’d made a few years ago – nothing catastrophic, nothing remotely on a par with Gibson’s anti-Semitic rants, just one small mistake that caused some embarrassment. The particulars aren’t important, but she noted that just as I remarked that “it’s a learning process,” she said “no, I screwed up, it was my fault, I should have known better and I will do better next time.” She’s at the point where she’s tired of people brushing it off when one tries to own up to a mistake and she’s right. It occurred to me that we’ve learned to deflect taking responsibility for mistakes (the non-apology apology of “sorry if i offended”) including allowing others to own up to their mistakes because as a society, we are apparently no longer willing to offer forgiveness. If someone says something verbally heinous, particularly if they’re on the other side of your fence, be it political, religious, whatever, there is apparently no mea culpa strong enough to warrant forgiveness.
That’s the kind of thing that endlessly fascinates me as a writer. There’s so much to explore. Big questions. Is it true we’ve stopped forgiving, why can one person say something and be shunned and another get away with it? Does truth really emerge during drunkenness or not? Good, evil, suffering… oh, suffering. Again, we’ve decided suffering is bad and must be eliminated. Are there consequences to that? Does the law of unintended consequences kick in?
With only a cursory look at some of the issues above, you could create an entire narrative around a society or group of people that refuses forgiveness. It could be general or it could be specific to one form of expression or one act (you, yes, you! could be the next Orwell or Hawthorne!) All these thorny, not-easily-answered questions are part of what keeps me coming back to the page. What do you wrestle with?
(I know, and am sorry – worst movie adaptation ever, but come on, the pic works so well with the text!)