I recently read an article on E.B White’s perspective on the role of a writer and it really resonated with me, especially considering the current state of the world. White believes that the writer should be the world’s secretary without becoming angry or losing faith in the world. White’s words echo in my heart:
“A writer must reflect and interpret his society, his world; he must also provide inspiration and guidance and challenge.”
“One role of the writer today is to sound the alarm.”
“A writer should concern himself with whatever absorbs his fancy, stirs his heart, and unlimbers his typewriter. I feel no obligation to deal with politics. I do feel a responsibility to society because of going into print: a writer has the duty to be good, not lousy; true, not false; lively, not dull; accurate, not full of error. He should tend to lift people up, not lower them down. Writers do not merely reflect and interpret life, they inform and shape life.”
And I must say that I failed because I am losing faith in the world, at least right now. I have become so discouraged in everything as of late that picking up a pen feels like trying to lift a hundred pounds with my thumb. What words could I string together that would offer any solace to this hurting world? What could I possibly do that would make anything better? These questions have plagued me, and I’m sure I’m not the only writer who feels this.
But this too shall pass.
As a writer, I accept the weight of bearing the torch – the pen – of peace and perspective. And I have made changes in my life to help me get back in the right mind to pick up this responsibility.
I deleted the Facebook app from my phone. My phone is less of a distraction now and more of a writer’s tool. If I really need to check Facebook, I’ll use the computer.
I read less articles. Less clickbait sensationalism, less politics, less violence that my eyes and soul are exposed to. E.B. White had something to say about that as well:
“Shocking writing is like murder: the questions the jury must decide are the questions of motive and intent.”
I am going to start living life as a writer, not solely an observer. Yes, a writer must observe; but too much observing can send the writer into information – and societal – overload.
Fellow writers, let us pick up our pens and combat this world of hatred and intolerance with words of love, peace, and hope. Especially hope.