For the last few days I’ve been meditating on Ernest Hemingway’s notion that we have to “write hard and clear about what hurts.” Initially, this quote puzzled me because most sane people go out of their way to avoid what hurts. But writers are different because we try to use the pain as a catalyst to mirror back the beauty in suffering. Or, at least that’s what I tell myself when I’m digging around in my brain for a new story idea.
After finishing my first novel in 2014, I’ve spent the last few months trying to replenish my creative well by hiding from what hurts. I started thinking that our old pal Ernie might have been wrong. After all, why would anyone willingly submerge themselves into a river of pain? It seems every nightly news broadcast is hell-bent on highlighting the suffering and that has yet to inspire me. But, isn’t that the whole deal? Isn’t that why we’ve elected to participate in this journey?
Writing is all about exploring the one thing connecting us all: the shared human experience. For me, writing is about digging a bit deeper into the spiritual nature of that experience and trying to make sense of it all. As seekers we spend so much of our time, money, and effort thinking about Otherness. One of the reasons writing is so important is because it helps us to share in our Otherness by acknowledging the many ‘other’ things we can’t define, understand, or explain.
I don’t want to be afraid of writing “hard and clear about what hurts” because I know that’s the best way to creatively express something worthwhile. There’s responsibility in attempting to share our madness and it’s this: if we really know, if we understand what it means to share this human experience, then we have to forgive ourselves for the madness, we have to love our enemies, and most of all …we have to stop charging, punishing, excluding, judging, and destroying each other.
And most would ask who is capable of such Love? Certainly, religion, government, and media want you to doubt, draw lines, and rely on payment for progression. I don’t yet love my enemies, I still judge the wrong, and I have trouble understanding anyone who doesn’t want the best for me, you, this world, or themselves but I’m working on it and I hope you will too.
Because, in the end, fear can only destroy…it won’t create anything. Legacies are built on Love because Love is a creative force. It’s what Hemingway’s words mean to me, it’s what we need to reach for and share in order for any of this to survive.
And that’s the hard, clear truth I’m going to write about today.