“Oh, it’s like that? So, what’re you tryin’ to say?”

What are you trying to say?

A few years ago, that question just hit me out of nowhere.

What was I trying to say?

I was questioning my writing, and honestly, at the time I didn’t know. I didn’t have an answer for myself. I guess up until that point I was writing just to write, so to speak, because it was something that was just in me to do. It would never go away.

Then, I got to a point where I wanted to entertain others with my writing. I would either think of a cool character, special power, or action packed scenario, formulate a story around it, and just write. That was fine for a while, until I evolved. Until that question demanded an answer. “What am I trying to say?”

From that point on, I wasn’t satisfied with just writing about cool powers and dire situations just for the sake of it. I wanted my stories to have a bit more depth than that. I wasn’t willing to write off my other stories as having no meaning though. Surely I was saying something in those other stories, maybe I just wasn’t aware of it.

So, I started to look back at my other stories. I started looking beyond the fantasy, horror, and sci-fi elements sprinkled within. What were the common themes in most, if not all, of my stories? Vibrant darkness, emotional pain, and morally deviant behavior.

Geez, what does that say about me? lol

As I started to look even further into my writing, I realized that, as I’ve said many times before, I’m pulled to shed light on the dark side of human nature. To expose those negative thoughts and destructive behaviors that we try to hide, and were taught to keep hidden. We all like to pretend we don’t have these thoughts or demonstrate said behaviors, but we do in one way or another.

From spreading rumors and betrayal, to physical abuse and murder, my goal isn’t to glorify such things, but to show that these things actually happen all around us everyday. Sometimes they’re committed by others far and near, sometimes by us right at home, though we’d like to pretend otherwise.

My hope is that maybe one day, someone will read/watch something I’ve written, and recognize their own “bad behavior” in one of my characters, see how harmful that behavior is to themselves and those around them, own up to it, and try to make a change. It may be a reach, but books and films, stories in general, have touched and changed lives since the dawn of time. So, I’ll keep trying to “reach” with my writing.

I’ve made my characters do some things in story that I’ve done in life, and not until I really look at it on paper do I realize, “Man, that’s really F–ked  up. I shouldn’t have done that.”

So, what am I trying to say? Well, this is what I AM saying. Bad things happen in our families, neighborhoods, cities, etc because we allow them to. People are hurt and traumatized, lives are destroyed and ended because of the things WE do. No one else. Just us. You and me. Until we own up to and change our own “bad behaviors”, nothing will ever change.

So, my fellow writers, have you asked yourself the question? Do you know what are you trying to say with your writing? Have you discovered what are saying through your writing without even being aware of it?

If  so, what are you saying?

6 Comments

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  1. I so dig this post. Deep questions here, Jamal.

    I’ve noticed that my stories tend to have immensely fragile characters who manage to not break at the end. I think I write about strength found in unlikely places. I also write about hope.

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    • I like the “strength found in unlikely places” aspect, Mercedes. I think it makes for great stories and a lot of us can relate to such characters in one way or another. It’s always nice to watch someone conquer obstacles and grow into their strength.

      Thanks for sharing what you say as a writer.

      Like

  2. I think its important that the “bad” parts of humanity is always talked out, exposed, and dealt with in order for humankind to evolve. Good writing should make us uncomfortable and seek to challenge the skeletons that we carry into our reading and more importantly every writer/creative person should ask themselves “what are they saying” and adding to the tapestry of life. Good Blog!

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    • Yes, I agree, FeministGriote. If the bad is not exposed what incentive is there to do better? A lot of people walk around with blinders on and feel that since things are good for them, they’re good for everybody. I believe by shining light on the darkness, showing how it stains, corrupts, and destroys everything it touches, it becomes harder to ignore that it exists. And if you can’t ignore it, maybe you just might try and do something to fix it.

      Thanks for reading and sharing you thoughts.

      Like

  3. I think the one trend with most successful writers is that they don’t HIT until late 20’s and beyond. This is simply for the fact that we really don’t get to examine who we really are until that age. Once you understand where you stand in this world, your writing starts to reflect an authority- distinguish you as an expert in whatever genre you stand in. As long as I have been writing, I AM JUST beginning to figure “what I am trying to say” out.

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    • Yeah, I do believe age has something to do with it, or at least a certain level of maturity. Once you reach a point where you begin to contemplate your life’s past experiences, and seriously consider your future actions, you start to see what type of person you are and also think about the type of person you want to become.

      Things begin to come into focus. What you will stand for, what you won’t stand for, and ultimately what it is you want to say/represent as a person. For me, this is reflected in my writing.

      Thanks for sharing your thoughts.

      Like

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