Writing is such a wonderful thing. Despite the vast array of colors and patterns it splatters upon our minds, it really is one of the greatest cultural achievements mankind has ever made. That’s partially an opinion and also an indisputable fact. It gave us the ability to express our ideas differently than we ever had before, but it also allowed us to share those ideas with a wider audience. Even audiences who might have never been able to listen, or even cared about what we wanted to say. That is as beautiful as it is horrifying. Freedom of speech is exactly that. You’re free to write whatever you want. That leads to some scary things being printed, but I won’t be pointing those out specifically. Besides just being words on a page or a difference of opinion, there are books with instructions on how to do many things. Which is why I feel it would be best to talk about writing itself.
Now, you might be wondering who I am and what gives me the authority to tell you anything about writing? That’s a fair question and I’m glad I put those words in your mouth. To start with, I am a human being. Being a human, I have read many things. No matter whether you have no will to read, or are an avid reader, most of us have read something in one capacity or another regardless of the content that we read.
So being a person on this planet gives me the right to say something about writing, but that doesn’t guarantee readers.
The second reason is because I’m an avid reader. I’ve spent a good portion of my life with my nose in a book. Not just novels, but anthologies, comic books, manga, poetry, philosophy, nonfiction, etc…
There’s a good chance that I have spent an equal amount of time reading, as conversing and dealing with actual people.
What else? I’m an aspiring writer. Maybe not anybody you know, but either way I am a writer. I’ve been writing songs, stories, poems and all sorts of other miscellaneous things since I was twelve. That doesn’t make me a good writer, but I’m working towards it.
Now, being an aspiring writer, I have spent more time reading and trying to understand how to do so. Not only that, but I’ve been trying to understand the importance of writing itself. On a large scale, it becomes evident pretty quickly. I mean, it has never been a secret how much we have to read to walk down the street, or that some of the most important things in history have been written down.
Still, there’s a smaller scale too.
To truly understand this, I’ve been trying to change my perception of the world we live in. It has changed before, but trying to force a change isn’t easy. I have been trying to view the written word on both a macroscopic and microscopic scale. All while trying to see the connections where they intertwine and become permanently bonded. It has become a web-like multiverse, continuously moving and expanding to this day. A book can have the biggest impact on a person’s life, in both positive and negative ways. I have experienced many sides of that spectrum and will continue to refrain from explaining the negative ends. There are also a lot of gray areas too. Sometimes, there is no good or evil and it is just a tool.
While exploring this multiverse, I have found some amazing things and amazing people.
You may not realize how much of an impact an unknown writer can have on someone else, but it all fits into that expanding web that I mentioned. Stories have changed my life, as they have for many others. It doesn’t have to be fiction, but I often find it has a larger impact. It can reveal many truths and paint incredible possibilities. Any form of writing can do the same.
When you’re listening to a song, reading a history book, or even your favorite novel. Wherever you look, you will see at least one person who has had their way of thinking influenced or changed by at least one thing they read or something someone else had to write.
Isn’t that amazing? A few words and the world will never look quite the same. Maybe a little brighter, or even a little dirtier, but still different.
Once the person formerly known as you has been warped even a tiny bit you have new thoughts and choices available to you. Just because something seems different, or even turns out to be different, you still get to choose how you act and what you say from then on. Even if there’s a gun to your head, you always have a choice. Sometimes, the choices are just all bad. How do you continue on, knowing that you can’t look at the world the same way? It has never been and will never be easy.
Every single time we read, we pick up a new idea or information that we had never thought of before. Then again, we may have forgotten it, or saw no reason to utilize it at the time and ignored it.
Nonetheless, there it is now. For example, we’ll say you read a science fiction novel, where the human race has expanded outside of our solar system and is looking to continue spreading. Finding suitable worlds and terraforming others to become suitable.
Whether you liked the story or not, you had to have considered the possibilities of it and reasons for expansion. Even if it was a passing thought. Why leave Earth? Could it be that important? There is no right answer, but thinking makes it so. If the Earth were to be destroyed in the next millennium, it could be a terrible idea for us to leave because of other unknown detrimental factors.
Suddenly, it’s scary, right?
There are too many variables, no matter how right one side may seem. Save the human race, but what if it condemns the universe? All hypothetical, but nothing is ever as easy as it seems. Personally, I think we need to colonize other planets and moons, because of our exponentially increasing population, rising tensions, and uncontrollable pollution. Those are my just my opinions. After reading, you felt something, though. You may have agreed with me, or seen me as a quixotic fool, but you felt something.
Reading this now can change your perception of the world because I decided to convey my thoughts to you. That is an amazing power and it works in so many ways. We all have this power, but many have no wish or understanding of how to use it. There are too many reasons or daunting obstacles that prevent many of us from using it.
At the same time, there are people like me who know that you have to start somewhere and write something.
These stories, facts, and opinions are all around us. When somebody reads this, they may decide to write something themselves because of something I wrote.
Something fantastic could come from it.
Fantastic, like many other words, doesn’t necessarily mean good or bad. I could have a hand in creating the next Arthur C. Clarke, or at the same time, the next Stalin… Yeah…
When writing these thoughts of ours, we have to be able to accept whatever may come of it regardless of our intentions. The written word is one of the most powerful tools we have ever created and the effects are still flowing around us, like ripples on a pond they wash over us like waves on the beach and drown us like tidal waves from a tsunami. We feel each movement without knowing the source of most of them. Of course this is an oversimplification, but still very true.
Real life and people influence and warp our ways of thinking directly too. What we read just has an immeasurable effect on the world.
So what can we do? Simple. We do what we’ve always done. Keep writing and reading.
We make our own choices and can’t be held directly responsible for what happens when we release our ideas to the world. Unless the idea is sent to a person or a group of people, that the writer knows their idea will provoke and possibly create a good or bad outcome. Otherwise, we release them and hope for the best. These ideas will be loved, hated, misconstrued, misunderstood, and many other things, but we need to keep reading and writing. There’s too much to learn and share. We must do something, even if our attempts don’t end up like we wanted them to. We have a power and must try to make a change.
What kinds of changes will we make now? I wish I had the answer to that, but it really is for the best that I don’t. If I did, I would try to influence the world in a way that I saw best. I am just reaching into the darkness and grasping for what I can’t quite reach. Just as many others are right now.
Whatever may happen… Whatever will happen… None of it matters, except for the fact that we can keep trying to make a difference.
I’d like to be beneficial to humanity in some way, instead of just benefiting from it. That’s me personally, but I think I can reach more people this way. Maybe that’s why I decided to write because I thought it would reach the most people. Then again, I love to read. That had to be a big influence on my decision.
The written word never dies, because we don’t want to be limited in our communication. That by itself is beautiful.
Josh James is a contributing author to the inaugural edition of Anthology Askew – a collective perspective, scheduled for release in early 2017.