Pick Up Your Pen & Change The World

Katie Orenstein via ihollaback.org
Katie Orenstein via ihollaback.org

Day 16 – A – Z Challenge

“Change writers hope that readers will join them in what Charles Johnson calls “an invitation to struggle.”  Whereas writers of propaganda encourage readers to accept certain answers, writers who want to transform their readers encourage the asking of questions.  Propaganda invites passive agreement; change writing invites original thought, openheartedness, and engagement.  Change writers trust that readers can handle multiple points of view, contradictions, unresolved questions, and nuance.  If, as André Gide wrote, “Tyranny is the absence of complexity,” then change writers are the founders of democracies. […] Socially conscious writers want authenticity and transparency to saturate every page of their work.  They strive to teach readers how to think, not what to think.  They connect readers to ideas and experiences that readers would not have on their own.  Always, this kind of writing coaxes readers to expand their frames of reference, or, as the Buddhists say, to put things in bigger containers.” —Mary Pipher, Ph.D., Writing to Change the World

Write. Have Your Say. Don’t Stop Until You Get Your Story Out.

“There is no greater agony than bearing an untold story inside you.”Maya Angelou, I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings

As you read this, I am heading back from New Mexico where I spent the day on Friday teaching creative writing to maximum security inmates there. In our workshop (I went with two undergraduates and my colleague) we encouraged our students to tell us a story. Whether through memoir, fiction, or poetry, the story we write about ourselves, our lives, is absolutely crucial. Our stories and the way we tell them are arbiters of ‘life’s coming attractions’ as Einstein once said.

I believe in the healing power of words.

I believe that they truly can ‘change the world’. We simply need to pick up our pens, and start writing.

“And by the way, everything in life is writable about if you have the outgoing guts to do it, and the imagination to improvise. The worst enemy to creativity is self-doubt.” Sylvia Plath, The Unabridged Journals of Sylvia Plath

How do we get out of our own way?

By getting started. By putting the pen on the page and writing without stopping for twenty minutes a day. By shutting down the monkey mind chatter and going deeper into the rivers of our unconscious mind. By opening a vein.

“You must stay drunk on writing so reality cannot destroy you.”Ray Bradbury, Zen in the Art of Writing

So, as I head home, across hundreds of miles of open desert and the White Mountains, think about what’s been bothering you, what’s been making you ache. Consider taking a break and dawdling over your writing desk, pen in hand. See what emerges.

I will be thinking of you as I marvel over the particular brand of light that always astonishes me when I visit New Mexico. It’s as though the clouds are enlightened beings, floating on their backs, sure of their place in the whole universe of time and space. It’s as though the flora and fauna bow under them, and everything — absolutely everything — glows with luminosity.

In other words, it is a place of dreams and dreaming while waking.

“Why not just tell the truth?” —Raymond Carver

Why not find out what you know? Why not kick the ground beneath you and see what’s there.

© 2015  Shavawn M. Berry All rights reserved

Feel free to share this post with others, as long as you include the copyright information and keep the whole posting intact. If you like this piece please share it with others. You can like me on Facebook  or Twitter to see more of my writing and my spiritual journey on my website  at www.shavawnmberry.com.


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