On Writing

Since I've written only one story, I'm hardly in a position to give writing lessons to anyone. However, as a voracious reader since childhood, I offer my thoughts below in the form of an essay I've written. As I said, I have all this unused space! This essay was originally posted on an internet forum.


Method Writing

When I was a kid in high school, I read a short story from an English Lit textbook that deeply impressed me. The story concerned an account of an innocent black man in the Deep South, circa 1930s, being lynched by a mob for rape. I can't recall the title now, but I had thought it was entitled "The Sheriff," though I cannot find a reference to it on search engines. What impressed me so much about the story was that it was told from the point-of-view of the town's sheriff, and not entirely unsympathetically. The character is portrayed as more craven than evil, and the reader is privy to his thoughts as he rationalizes away his inaction, though it is clear he is not at all comfortable with the impending violence and injustice. He does have a conscience, but he's not willing to risk his office or worse for the victim's sake.

What was so remarkable about the story was that it was written by an African-American author and convincingly so!

I saw a television movie about the early years of the AIDS epidemic. The plot revolves around a group of homosexual friends from NYC. One of them is a writer for a soap opera. While watching an episode while vacationing on Fire Island, the writer laments, "They always give me the queer scenes to write." When one of his friends notes, "That's only natural," the man retorts [something like], "If I can't write a convincing old lady in a nursing home, then I'm not worth my salt as a writer."

At that, I thought to myself, "Hear! Hear!" Now there's a man with some professional pride in his craft; a pride that transcends who or what he is.

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