Sunday, October 31, 2004


I am, apparently, still brewing some sharp words through my poor, poor keyboard. My run-in with swastika-boy last week seemed to throw my writer's sense of balance in a very defiant direction. Almost from the moment I saw the offensive symbol, my brain went into underdog mode and started shaping some very hard-edged thoughts on how the intolerance of this world has impacted my thinking as a journalist who happens to be Jewish, and who happens to write within a broadly non-Jewish world.

As my head tumbles through this process, I find myself crafting this week's column - for Wednesday publication - using a very powerful and personal voice. Anyone who reads this piece will know, point blank, who I am, why I do what I do, and why my thoughts on hatred and intolerance really do matter. I just have to stay out of too-hot-for-the-breakfast-table territory, so it may need a bit of a sleep-on-it approach before I do my final edits before submission tomorrow.

Incidentally, the title of this message refers to the process by which I initiate ideas and gradually evolve them through the various stages of creation, writing, and polishing before I have a final, submission-ready opinion piece. This process often takes months while I toss various treatments and focii around my head. Interestingly, it almost never gets written down. While the idea itself may exist on a storyboard list that I maintain on my PalmPilot, the actual evolution of the idea is not documented. It simply grows in my head until one day I wake up and feel that it's time to turn it into a concrete piece of writing.

In many respects, I don't control it. Rather, it tends to control me. If I try to force an idea before my head has had a chance to thoroughly churn it into something worthwhile, it almost inevitably comes out substandard. I cringe when I read some of my improperly-churned work, as it jumps out at me like a taunting child in an elementary school playground.

Please note that this process applies only to opinion pieces and other more personal forms of writing. The usual newsy or tech stuff doesn't tend to come from the same place. It's much more factual, direct, and impersonal. I don't feel like I give birth to those as I do my opinion pieces. I don't leave traces of myself embedded in those phrases and paragraphs. As a result, blasting out reams of copy is fairly straightforward once I've got a good handle on the voice of the publication in question.

But something changes when I use my opinions as the basis for my writing. Things slow down and each word becomes immensely more powerful. People are moved. Hopefully, to do good.

Tonight, the anger and fear of being a member of a minority group that is being repeatedly singled out by hate-mongers on a national scale is weighing heavily on my writer's voice. I feel accountable to deliver a message from deep inside that reflects that fear, and uses it as a catalyst to move us all beyond the here and now and into a somewhat more enlightened future. Who knows, maybe the power of the pen will prevail after all.

I'll head back to the process now, but not before I thank everyone who took the time to comment on my swastika post. I wish I could articulate how your words have helped me shape my thoughts and my writer's response in the days since this first occurred. You have once again reinforced and validated the wickedly subversive power of this rapidly-evolving medium of ours. I can't wait to see what happens as this audience of greats continues to expand.

Onward, with my thanks...


Joan said...

You know...I recently heard something that really rang true with me, and for some reason, it's sticking out in my head as I read this post, and the previous one on swasitka boy:

Forgiveness does not mean that you are condoning a person's act or words against you, but rather forgiveness is letting go of the hope that the past will change.

After all, the only thing we can change is the future. I'm sure the finished product of your article will help to accomplish that and to open up another person's perspective to a more open point of view.

THAT, my friend, is why the pen is mightier than the sword! :-)

Dean said...

Thanks for the discussion of your creative process. I'm always interested in such things. Yours seems to mirror mine in many respects, at least in the production of those things that really matter to you.

As for the swastika incident, I tend to think that the guy was merely ignorant and mind-numbingly insensitive rather than hateful. People who wear swastikas as a sign of their hatred tend to do so loudly and with malicious pride.

I should point out that, hopefully, anyone of German extraction was likewise offended by someone mindlessly portraying an entire nation as nothing more than Jew-hating murderers. I'm old enough to remember kids being beaten up a school because they had German names.

Mark said...

That is really interesting Joan. I was talking to a friend about the African mentality towards forgiveness, and they think in the same way. It seems strange to me that someone could forgive an atrocity, but if you don't, then it may have a continuing negative effect on your life.

Lou Lou said...

ignorance probably.
its amazing how much of it prevails. we are all aware surely of the evil in our world?
i know i am. sadly there is much of it.
thankyou also for your lovely thoughts to me carmi

Leanne said...

Wow Carmi I am so sorry that you had to be put in such an akward position at work. I just became aware of it when I read a comment posted to my blog from Mark. I will modify the picture tonight as soon as I have a few minutes to mess with photoshop. I say bless all of us that are not mainstream... it is our idividuality and uniquness that leads to all the beautiful things that bless our planet. Walk tall and walk proud, our strength is in our devotion to a greater good. You lead the pack in this movement Carmi.

vente said...

Vous avez un blog très agréable et je l'aime, je vais placer un lien de retour à lui dans un de mon blogs qui égale votre contenu. Il peut prendre quelques jours mais je ferai besure pour poster un nouveau commentaire avec le lien arrière.

Merci pour est un bon blogger.