Friday, December 16, 2011

10 Days of Determination: Day 1 - Trust Your Gut

greetings folks!! welcome to the first post to kick off 10 Days
of Determination. i wanted to write these as i take time out on
each of the ten days leading up to the Christmas holiday to reflect
and bolster myself about my writing and what influences it going
into the New Year.

today, i want to talk about how you should always trust
your gut as a writer. for me, i learned that while in a
class on English literature in my freshman year in college.
we were reading Joseph Conrad's 'Heart of Darkness'. and as
i read it, it rubbed me the wrong way. while well-written,
the words held a viewpoint of Africa and its citizens that
were, in a word, dehumanizing. i felt the need to speak up
about this. sure, there was a small voice of doubt inside
of me. 'you can't make a stink about racism in a accredited
novel and expect to be heard!!!', it said. but there was
this insistence, this burning feeling that said, 'you have
got to speak up. SPEAK UP.' now i'll admit something here
and now...i was born quiet, and i still am to a degree.
quiet to the point where it can be perceived as timidity.
more on that in another post. but i was blessed to have
been in a family that prided truth and telling it above
all things. and i felt in my heart that speaking up about
how i felt to the professor was the right thing to do.

the next class, the professor asked us to give our opinions
on 'Heart of Darkness'. after a couple of other classmates
spoke, i raised my hand. and i let her know that i felt
that Conrad catered to colonial ideals to the point of
endorsing racism. there was a brief, intense discussion. the
class afterwards, the professor made it a point to make
part of the class a special forum for discussion of the
topic - complete with a handout of Chinua Achebe's own
pointed critique of 'Heart of Darkness'. and from then on,
the professor and i had a great relationship.

if i hadn't gone with my gut, i would never have been able
to help affect change and assist thought-provoking discussion.
and that applies to writing, any kind of writing. you have
to be able to trust your own feelings on characters, plot.
if a piece of written dialogue doesn't sound right, rewrite
it. sometimes, i like to openly verbalize bits and pieces of
a story. if it doesn't ring true in my ears, it won't ring
true on the page. if there's a historical fact i feel needs
checking, i go and research it fully. trust your gut. because
that is where your words get their weight from.

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