Meaningful Monday Writing Prompt Now Available!
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“What I have most wanted to do throughout the past ten years is to make political writing into an art,” George Orwell wrote in his essay “Why I Write” (1946). “My starting point is always a feeling of partisanship, a sense of injustice. When I sit down to write a book, I do not say to myself, ‘I am going to produce a work of art.’ I write it because there is some lie that I want to expose, some fact to which I want to draw attention, and my initial concern is to get a hearing. But I could not do the work of writing a book, or even a long magazine article, if it were not also an aesthetic experience. […] Animal Farm was the first book in which I tried, with full consciousness of what I was doing, to fuse political purpose and artistic purpose into one whole…”
In 2013 my friend and colleague Faye Sholiton asked me to be on a panel at the Dramatists Guild conference in Chicago as part of a new program she was pioneering called Writing Wrongs. I had written a one woman show trying to make sense of my fiancé’s suicide, to help me understand what he was going through that would leave him no other choice than to kill himself. I worked with an art therapist and interviewed people who were experiencing severe mental health challenges such as clinical depression and bi-polar disorder and other people like me who were suffering the loss of a loved one to suicide. I wrote verbatim monologues from the interviews and used their journeys to become them in my play using masks that they created. The women came to every show and helped to facilitate the art response and read people’s reactions from the stage. Each one told me what an empowering and healing experience it had been for them, especially when their friends and family were in the audience.
The idea behind Faye’s program was to pull together writers who write to process untenable or challenging circumstances and to share their work as a vehicle for awareness and to educate audiences about people living in the margins. Some of us also worked with populations that we helped to write and/or perform their stories. I had worked with what we then called “at-risk youth” in Anchorage, Alaska for 2 summers and was also a playwriting mentor in the juvenile justice system in San Francisco. As I honed my presentation for Writing Wrongs, I crystalized my answer to “Why I Write”. I am forever grateful to Faye for that opportunity and for how she makes the world a better place.
Meaningful Monday Writing Prompt ~ Why do you write? No, really, why do you write?