Friday Writing Experiment No. 57: Off Your Chest


In another blog post this week, I write about shame – not so much a personal shame but a cultural one. It could just be wishy-washy liberal guilt, but writing (and sharing) this got something off my chest.

For this week’s writing experiment: get something off your chest. Consider something that gets you mad, makes you feel shame (either personally or politically), arouses your passions. An injustice, a cause, something political, something you give a shit about. Then get it off your chest.

Maybe try to avoid opining. Oh wait: maybe that’s not possible! Maybe just try to avoid whining, and micro-aggressions?!

Don’t worry about forming a coherent argument. I found it useful to use that form of a list of numbered points, joining them as dots.

Or you could write it as a letter.

Fire away!


Friday Writing Experiment No. 24: Voice 3: Passion and Purpose

This week I read a remarkable post on The Deportee’s Wife, which is the blog of Giselle Stern Hernández, whom I know from Naropa.

Once you’ve read it for yourself, I imagine you too will agree that this is very powerful.

As a piece of writing, it engages with issues that are literally a matter of life and death: medical matters, health insurance, immigration, things that many of us take for granted and are lucky not to worry about. Politicians talk about such things, and make careers out of them. Meanwhile, other people have to live the consequences.

Forgive me for doing the editor’s version of ambulance chasing and looking beyond the content here, but I also read this to understand its form, and to see how and why a powerful piece of writing is created. There’s pacing. The paragraphs are well structured. Words are well chosen, unfussy, and purposeful. Complexities are introduced and explained with great clarity. People are brought to life. A story is forged. And we really care about the outcome.

Above all her other gifts, Giselle has an incredible voice – a voice with fire, with force, a voice that wants to change the world. I’ve been doing these writing experiments about voice, and nothing perhaps gives a voice more strength than passion and purpose.

This is important stuff. This isn’t fiction. This is real life. Even if you are writing fiction, it probably needs to contain real life too.

What do you care about? Where are your passions? What is your purpose?

This week, write about something you care about. Something vital, urgent. Dig deep (or maybe it’s already at the surface). Above all, let that vital matter fuel your voice, and really let it take control of you and your writing. No filters, no censors. Just say what must be said, and understand how that instinctively gets channelled into your voice, and out on to a page. Write, write, write until you stop.

Meanwhile, deep-felt thanks to Giselle for sharing her story, and an ever deeper wish that these matters are resolved, and soon. It’s really hard to know what to say here, without sounding trite, or worrying about saying the wrong thing. Really, we call ourselves writers, but sometimes words fail.

However, we muster ourselves, because words can be translated into action, and words are the things that will change the world. Viva Giselle!