Saturday, January 18, 2014

The Elegance of Compassion

As writers trying our utmost to master technical aspects of a craft—those skills of endurance & refinement which lead to the steady progression of a coherent manuscript—when dusting off the proverbial writer's toolbox, we often focus on the logical & linear. As primary vehicle, it becomes tempting to concentrate solely upon scenes of unfolding narrative & how characters move through time & space—the mechanical units of writing. If the through-line for action is clear, we reason, the reader will stay connected.

Yet in the exchange of storytelling, it is the empathic connection our readers feel towards the characters depicted which dictates the opportunity for overall success in our effort. It is through the reader's imagination that challenges & conflicts are played-out; it is through shared understanding we resolve dilemmas together.

Rising above all other modes of impact we hope to affect upon a reader, the opportunity for healing is perhaps the most beautiful. The chance to re-tell stories of humiliation & gross injustice is a fertile place for the ardent writer to deepen a possibility for redemption or vindication. Life is swift & occasionally brutal, yet in literature we can re-visit what has been painful & through careful re-enactment of the variables which intersected to battle for dominance & the balance of authority, we are able to expand impetus in a manner which points to a broader hope of understanding. In this landscape, we are afforded the opportunity to enrich insight into both the dark & redemptive aspects of the human spirit.

In the re-telling of painful experience, whether autobiographical of perhaps what has been witnessed, a writer is offered an opportunity of protecting the currents of empathic understanding which detail how such tyranny came into manifestation. It is only when both protagonist & that dialectical antagonist have been carefully drawn to provide insight into how or perhaps more importantly why people behave as they do.

Trauma sears pain onto the heart; it is apt to cause loops of re-enactment in the mind. The writer who chooses to lovingly expand upon complex & conflicted motivation attempts to guide a reader through land mines of shame & regret. Frank exposition, guided by a writer’s antennae tuned towards redemption, offers a unique & intimate form of encouragement. The imagination coached to conceive the grace of forgiveness is more apt to permit grievance & rage an opportunity to dissolve under the dawning light of a heart measuring re-consideration.

{Painting by Max Ernst}

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