“We write in service of the truth”
Professor Laura McCullough is the first person I heard say this. She quoted someone famous I’m sure, but that’s not important. What’s important is that I didn’t understand when she said it.
I didn’t understand later when I wrote a poem on capital punishment or a story on homelessness in Columbia, SC. I didn’t understand it years later when I finished my writing degree. I’m sure I don’t fully understand it now. But I’m getting there.
I finally caught a small understanding a few weeks ago. I thought about my writing and what I want it to accomplish. I thought about the news. About the deep trenches on either side of every issue even in my own city.
Politics is politics, then, now, I’m not changing that. But there must be a way to articulate a common humanness at least for my community? Wouldn’t building common ground be better than building impregnable barricades around ideologies?
But how? is a million-dollar question.
Then, I thought about art. Specifically, the art of writing as an expression of culture in turmoil. It’s historic ability to communicate without ostracizing. To take a point-of-view, that cannot be spoken outright and put it in story form. Weaving humanity together into a common and relatable form. Not as rhetoric, not intending to persuade, but to express before the reader.
In this way, art can get people to listen when nothing else can.
I think about creative writing everywhere and it’s place in culture as an agent for truth. In this light, “We write in service of the truth,” is a statement that fundamentally changes the reason we write. It gives us purpose, far removed from our instruments.
As agents, we’re more than writers, we’re mediators who make some sense of humanity and present it to our community.
Anyway, it’s a thought-in-progress. Feel free to take it the way you want and give me your thoughts.