Write if it Kills You

All right.  Something has to be done about this writelessness, a non-word by which I mean the state of affairs in which all the writing I do consists of terse answers to convoluted questions on online grant applications and terser yet moderately amusing Facebook status updates.  OBL suspects that I don’t write here anymore because my soul has been sucked out by the devil Facebook, but perhaps the relationship goes the other way.  Maybe I have embraced mini-micro-blogging because macro-blogging makes too great a demand on my depleted mental resources—depleted by relentless failure in multiple realms.  But you know what?  A person who does not write can’t claim the title of Writer, and in its absence I am left with titles I can’t even bear to type out loud, and if those are to be my only titles I will quickly slip into cherry red grass territory, if you know what I mean.


So an intervention is called for.  Literary therapy is required.  I don’t have to write about anything important.  In fact, it’s better if I don’t, because matters of importance are so tangled in my head that I can’t currently tease the strands apart to express them.  Or can I?  Maybe I can if I get some mojo back.  In the meantime, how about a little book review?  That’s safe enough.


Here’s the book: The Devil Amongst the Lawyers, by Sharyn McCrumb.  If you are not familiar with her work, she has written a series of novels set in the Appalachians that tell stories of the lives of the mountain people with respect and a sprinkling of mysticism.  This book goes back to the Great Depression.  One of McCrumb’s recurring characters, who is an elderly woman in the other books, appears in this one as a child. 


A murder has been committed and a bunch of journalists, mostly from Big Cities, arrive in Podunk, Virginia to cover the case.  They have disrespectful and prejudiced views of mountain people, which they spew in their stories about the trial.


Wait, I have to digress for a moment.  A few weeks ago my family went to a concert performed by the Seattle Women’s Chorus, which consists mostly of gay women.  The theme of the concert was families, all kinds of families, all of which are okay.  They’re all okay!  Any family in which people love and care for each other is okay, no matter who is in the family and what kind of sex they like and how the children were produced.  All okay.  Did you get the message there?  All kinds of families are okay.  Really, they are all very okay.  That’s what the concert was like.  In Seattle, of all places, where a bunch of liberals were spending their entertainment dollars on a gay concert and obviously already believed that all kinds of families were absolutely, definitely okay.  The Chorus preached to the choir for three tortuous hours.


That’s what McCrumb’s book was like, too, except that instead of okay families the message that repeated again and again and a-freaking-gain was that mountain people are not dumb yokels like them big city reporters make ‘em out to be.  The story, which involves a woman who may have bashed her father’s head in and a brother who seems to be looking out for his sister’s best interests but maybe isn’t (I guess that kind of family might be deemed “not okay”), would have been entertaining had it not been overshadowed by the droning, ever-repeating message about the non-yokelness of the residents of Appalachia. 


So don’t bother with the book and skip the SWC at least until the Christmas show, when they will sing the same mantra with a holiday twist.  And if anyone still comes by to read this dusty, neglected blog, please encourage me to write more because the alternative is Not. Good.




25 thoughts on “Write if it Kills You

  1. A most enjoyable ramble/rant. Socio-political causes are the enemies of art and do not improve Disney movies either. A lot of productions are becoming as uninteresting as the old communist posters done in red and black.By all means, write about whatever you want. I rarely write anything of substance, but I do it all the time.

  2. I always feel a subliminal jolt of electrostatic joy while scrolling down in Subs and seeing your TR classic coloured background. Deft prose follows as night the day. An average of six(6) new ways to say something- phrasings I wish I’d have thought of first. Oh, well, the background colour thingy was my invention at least (?)Oh, and, no pressure, but what in the world is {“cherry red grass territory“}?signed / Clueless in the Ozarks

  3. I’m probably too old to know what ‘cherry red grass’ means, but I always want you to write.  Even Facebook writing is better than nothing.  What happened to that Nano thing, and Kent’s disappearance and the “Scary Clown?”  WRITE!!!

  4. I was just talking to some students yesterday about the problem with writing… Too much writing is “preaching to the choir”… People write like they’re writing to people who ALREADY  agree… What’s the point? That drives me MAD!  I still read you. I don’t often come over, but I read you on my subs page. I get sick of people being taught that there is only one way to write right.  I frequently butcher the language on purpose just to wake people up myself.  If the audience hears the expected script, they just sleep through it or wander off… There’s a reason to break rules and twist things and do it differently. If you want to change people, you have to address the people who disagree with you and address the things they are interested in.Do keep writing. And I’ll keep writing… and hopefully there will continue to be enough wakeful minds in the world to keep the species moving forward.Onward and upward.*

  5. YAYAYAYAYAYAYAYAYAY!!!  And Mad’s back too, I think!!!!  I am sooooooooo happy!  It was my desperate pleas for attention, wasn’t it?  My clownish monkey writing dances…yes??  My posting *actual fiction*??  Participation in a scavenger hunt??  I finally lured you away from the devil Facebook!!  I must be an angel!  Hey, and Second Shift just came in the mail.

  6. Write, but please don’t die.  I am now imagining how an all-families-are-okay concert by a gay women’s chorus would go down with an audience of non-choir types.  It might be more interesting, but depending on the specific make-up of the non-choir audience, it could potentially end badly.  There is a Shirley Jackson-esque story to be written here.

  7. I’m too lazy to follow the link to cherry red grass, so I’ll just fill in whatever I think of. It’s amusing when you skewer causes I expect you to fawn over (SWC), and other times support causes I would expect you to skewer. So keep writing. Persevere!

  8. I’m glad you somewhat diferentiated between Seattle Men’s Chorus and the SWC.  As an attendee, and the person who dragged you to that show, I must apologize.  Ack… it committed the cardinal sin of any show that purports to entertain…. It was BORING.

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