I was reading a blog yesterday (as I find myself doing more and more) about writing and inspiration. The blog was written by Timothy Pike, who focuses on the motivating events, activities or forces that drive people to write. His blog is aptly named “What Inspires Your Writing?” The blogger featured in his article was another talented man by the name of Daniel Boshoff, (danielboshoff.com) whose article “Bogged Down in Blog Town” was amusing and rang true with me. As I read Timothy’s article about Daniel, I wondered about my own inspirations and considered the topics about which I’ve written.
I noticed that much of my writing tends to have a darker, negative tone in that I find myself often criticizing people or groups that I find do not meet my standards of excellence (I can be a real opinionated asshole). This gave me reason to wonder about my state of mind and my general perspective on life. I’ve always thought of myself as falling more into the Optimist category, but my writing suggests otherwise. My short stories even have a gray haze cast over most of them; tales of death and sadness and fear are the overlying themes.
As I searched deeper, I realized that many of my literary influences also walked in the shadows. Stephen King, Edgar Allen Poe, Emily Dickinson and Sylvia Plath are not exactly known for their cheery contributions to the world of writing. “Am I an angry man?” I asked myself. Perhaps I was a Pessimist after all.
I cannot speak for all shadows, but if this is where I dwell, then I yearn for the light. I strive to be happy. I long for love and peace and bright, shiny things. I wish to bring hope to the world and to inspire others to do great things. I do love life and want to enjoy every moment of it. This, I realized, was truly at my core. When and where the shadows crept in I cannot be sure, but they exist and I along with them. The question I found myself needing to answer was – Am I an optimistic pessimist or a pessimistic optimist? I settled on the latter and yes, there is a difference. I believe I came into this world as all humans do, which is to say completely unaware of anger or sadness or hatred or fear or anything that taints our spirit. As my life unfolded I was introduced to all of the contents of Pandora’s mythical box and such as it is, those things shaped me. Years of living in fear of an alcoholic step-father, years of hearing his derision wore the glossy patina off of me and left a stained exterior. It is this exterior that adds its own color to my writing now, even though from within I still glow with light.
Perhaps I may never write of flowers and laughter and happy things the way many do, but I have finally found my voice. If readers do not like my pessimistic edge, I understand and forgive them if they choose to engage other writers and abandon me. I am as life has forged me and my only gift to the world is my commitment to being myself. My voice will speak and it will be uniquely me: Pessimistically optimistic.