Last weekend’s edition of CBS Sunday Morning featured a segment on the “art” of video game production, deeming it a legitimate form of “expressive media.” Of course, the reporter couldn’t resist bringing up the issue of video-game violence. Is it really necessary? To that point, the interviewee replied, “Not including some of that would be unrealistic.”
I think it’s no coincidence that the next segment, titled “Crime and Punishment,” focused on the history and current atrocities of hate crimes. Indeed, our lives are plagued by brokenness in all its colors–the seven deadly sins and then some. As the woman said, that’s our stinking reality.
So perhaps that’s why we really notice and appreciate even the faintest flickers of hope.
The other day, Terry and I were in our usual spots on the sofa when a flash of red passed by our living room windows. At closer look, it was a mylar balloon–a bit crumpled, weak in helium, and hovering just five feet above the ground. Its shape: a heart.
The balloon took eventual residence in the trees lining the back of our lot–a bright symbol of love caught in the dense boughs of our evergreens. Of course, its unexpected appearance gave us pause. Could this be a sign from above? What were we to make of this? What were we to do?
As writers, some of us choose to bear a unique responsibility: to provide readers with an escape from this rotten world by expressing, twisting, and transforming that very rottenness into something enlightening, even encouraging. The best books I’ve read make no bones about the challenges we face as humanity. But, invariably, at least a little goodness floats into the picture, perhaps through an amazing show of character, a courageous act of sacrifice, or an all-out miracle. A heart gets a bit deflated… but endures nonetheless.
May we not only be truthful, but also be true to the virtues that make our work world-changing. Write real and write well today.
WRITING PROMPT 1: Create a character who struggles with one or more of the seven deadly sins: lust, gluttony, greed, sloth, pride, wrath or envy. Also weave in a redeeming quality or two.
WRITING PROMPT 2: Base a story or poem on something you’ve recently read or seen in the news.
WRITING PROMPT 3: Are you passionate about a particular cause? Consider how you can make a difference, and write about it.