Thoughts on writing. Fill your mind with trash and your mind will be filled with trash. You are what you read. I do not want to write trash that is written well. What’s the point?! I want to write excellent beautiful books that people cannot put down and when they do finish the book, they run to their friends and say, “You gotta read this! You gotta!” I want them to think about that book when they have to stop reading because they have to go to work (darn it!) and are forced to put it down until lunch break, which break they spend (what else?) reading my book. I want to get emails saying, “I stayed up all night reading your latest novel and my eyes were bloodshot all day at work but it was worth it!” (I also want to know that your job is not any sort of critical care-giving job and no one’s life depended on you being alert that day, but, well, you get my drift.)
Film, writing, and writing that haunts. A film that is mostly dialogue or narration with some pictures thrown in is not a film but an illustrated talk. Further illuminating a scene or several scenes in a film by using carefully selected and crafted words in the form of narration, dialogue or captions — that is a film.
Say to me, millions are now homeless in the wake of some war or other tragedy of epic proportions and that I should care.
Forgive me, but…Yawn.
Now show me, with or without words, one child sitting in a pile of feces and blood, holding her dead mother’s hand, crying, flies all over and around her, show me her eyes and the fear and misery and terror there, her tiny body emaciated, stomach distended, starving, disease-ridden.
That moves me as I write it.
Now you add your voice-over wherein you mention the millions of others like her all over the world. Pull the camera back as the voice continues. Now the scene reveals countless other children with dead parents, parents with dead children, grieving, whole families dead. Structures once homes and churches and schools and stores, now unrecognizable, torn, bombed, razed to the ground, ashes and smoke, a lone wall, a lopsided chimney, the remains of a hearth. Bodies strewn like refuse on the waste-strewn street. Ruined buildings, ruined lives.
Now I care. About the first lone child you showed me. About the millions of others like her. Before I could not imagine. Now I can. You have shown me the image and I can see it. I cannot not see it. I cannot stop seeing it. You haven’t said, “It’s horrible.” You have shown me horror. Better, you have ripped me from where I sat in my comfortable apathy and have thrown me down in the midst of inescapable unasked for and unspeakable horror and have shown me through another’s eyes what real horror and suffering is. Make me see it, feel it, taste it. Make me unable to look away. Make me unable to forget. Move me to say to a loved one, a friend, somebody, anybody, everybody, “Look! You have to see this!”
This is the way to write something that will stay with the reader, a scene that will haunt the viewer.
Thanks for reading. May you read or view or hear something haunting today, something that fills you with wonder or dread or terror or longing that inspires you to create something haunting of your own. Happy imagining, writing fans, wherever you are.