Tears & Laughter - The Cancel Culture is Killing Creativity
August 1, 2020 | View PDF
There are two types of writers in the world: those who can write…and those who want to be able to write. Proofreading is just part of the process. If the deadline allows, it is best to have a little space between finishing writing and proofing, but I don’t do that so much anymore…even as Southern as I am. That is no longer the point of proofing.
People who can’t write seem to find great joy in pointing out simple sins in the words of those who can. But it is easy to use the wrong form of a word or to overlook mistakes.
What happens, I think, is when you are writing something that requires a lot thought, for some reason the mind tends to focus on the point, especially if you are creating something out of nothing, if you are literally weaving words (because not all writing is the same). You can report, but you can also teach, or preach, or rant. You can uplift or inspire. You can make people laugh or cry … just by the way you make words spill onto paper. You can make people think. You can change minds and hearts. You can soften anger, or create it … if you want. You can explode onto the page, or approach it with quiet grace of Ruth. You can do both in the same paragraph … if you’re good enough, if you are confident enough, if you have the guts to push the limits. If you have the fortitude to embrace the freedom we are afforded.
There is something about writing that is gloriously satisfying for writers. The ability to write a good sentence is a gift. It is detected immediately by the reader, and whatever that is – that dynamic – is what keeps most of us writing for the price of which we write it.
When you are spiritually inspired to write something and are channeling thought, there is an energy that flows through like ink through a pen, like music through an instrument. It is the sweet spot writers search for with all their mind surfing. It is the magical place we are all trying to reach when we shut out the world, shut off our phones, and slink into the back room to write.
And when words finally flow freely, it is as if another part of your mind goes into auto-fill. It just fills in the basics that hold the important stuff together. It plays bass. And it is in there where mistakes can happen that autocorrect can’t detect.
But that kind of mistake is not what I look for anymore. No. Now I read each paragraph and stop, and I ask myself if there was anything in there that might offend anybody. Am I going to hurt anybody’s feelings? It is like having to put milk in the coffee for fear it will be too strong.
There is seldom anything offensive in anything I write, and if it is then it is certainly unintentional…unless of course it is completely intentional, and I am using it to make a point – as writers sometimes do. But I am hesitant to write to my full ability anymore. I am quiet with my opinion; I am afraid to attempt humor; I am too careful with my descriptions, and I worry…that I am not alone.
It is difficult to be seasoned while feeling squelched. Lewis Grizzard would have been canceled in today’s culture. People have become too weak to appreciate even him, too fragile.
We can keep going as we are, but we may need to weigh the give/gain ratio. We are giving up freedom – freedom of speech, freedom of thought, of opinion, of expression, freedom to choose, to think, to decide. We are sacrificing expression, art, creativity, and authenticity. And what are we gaining? Because it sure as hell isn’t diversity.
Amanda Walker is a contributor with AL.com, The Selma Times Journal, Thomasville Times, West Alabama Watchman, and Alabama Gazette. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org or at https://www.facebook.com/AmandaWalker.Columnist.