for writers and readers….
You are your own stories and therefore free to imagine and experience what it means to be human without wealth. What it feels like to be human without domination over others, without reckless arrogance, without fear of others unlike you, without rotating, rehearsing and reinventing the hatreds you learned in the sandbox. And although you don’t have complete control over the narrative (no author does, I can tell you), you could nevertheless create it.
Although you will never fully know or successfully manipulate the characters who surface or disrupt your plot, you can respect the ones who do by paying them close attention and doing them justice. The theme you choose may change or simply elude you, but being your own story means you can always choose the tone. It also means that you can invent the language to say who you are and what you mean. But then, I am a teller of stories and therefore an optimist, a believer in the ethical bend of the human heart, a believer in the mind’s disgust with fraud and its appetite for truth, a believer in the ferocity of beauty. So, from my point of view, which is that of a storyteller, I see your life as already artful, waiting, just waiting and ready for you to make it art.
This comes from a speech Toni Morrison gave at a graduation ceremony in 2004. I found it on a wonderful website about literature and philosophy and all the things that make us human: Brain Pickings
Toni Morrison died this week aged 88. She was the first African-American to win the Nobel Prize in Literature and if you read only one of her novels I think you should read Beloved. A historical novel, it says more about the deep darkness of slavery and the legacy it leaves than anything I’ve ever read.