warning sign above shiny road between street lights at night
warning sign above shiny road between street lights at night
Photo by elifskies on

Writing is hard. For me, it takes a lot out, because I’m pouring so much energy in. It’s okay to wonder why you’re doing that, when so few people really pay attention. They’re your words, after all. Crafted by you, and yet it seems so irrelevant.

I think it’s okay to say that being anonymous hurts, when you think you have something to say, and that what you have to say is meaningful in some way. Or just different. Or just a voice that hasn’t been heard before. My experiences in my writing are shaped by being an immigrant to North America. For anyone who hasn’t followed that path, it’s impossible to explain what I mean by that. If you’ve not experienced racism in its ugly forms before, you cannot feel me.

But it’s more than that. I want to create better worlds. Unravelling human nature, in its oddness and ugliness, allows us to look for something better. At least I believe it does. What world should we create? Where is the place that we want to be? As dark as I like to get with my writing, as completely crazy as I often get with plots, there is one defining thing that I like to bring: an uplifting narrative. A sense of hope. A sense that it’s going to be okay, that we will figure this out together.

In my work world, I tackle the climate crisis. Same thing. We will figure this out, no matter how hard it is, or how many people demean you and put you down and tell you that your work is useless. Why does that matter? The cause is true. The journey defined. The fight, for lack of a better word, is righteous.

Is my writing righteous? Does it actually mean anything, or have any place in this world? Who makes that determination? Not me. It’s not me. That’s important to remember. Voices we have, and often we speak, but speaking is not enough to be heard, and hearing is not something people must do. It’s not.

But voices we have, and voices we should bring, no matter what. This is the righteous part of the fight, the struggle. It’s not like anyone has a right to be listened to. It’s the thought of voices, sometimes underrepresented, sometimes misrepresented, having a place… Just having a place. That’s the part that matters. Speak, and you might be heard. There really isn’t any other answer.

If I can help hear you, and celebrate your voice, I will. I won’t be perfect at this, but I will surely try, because you’re in the struggle, too. The righteous fight to say something, to be heard. As a collective, we are heard. That’s a real cause, and that cause, no matter how much we might feel otherwise at times, is wonderful. And so are you.

Dream hard, rage hard.

32 thoughts on “Confessions

            1. I’ve responded to your post. I’ll further some thoughts here. Storytellers have an old, connected soul. There is a drawing on people who tell stories that is common to storytellers throughout the ages. It’s the same mysterious spark that makes people do this, and want to do this. It’s compelling, and it’s common while nameless, deeply passionate while often elusive. We’re connected. We have to be. There is no other explanation for wanting to do this, for shouting into the void over and over again. I won’t call it a calling, because even callings aren’t really callings… but it’s a thread through humanity, always has been there, springs up in many, who just want to tell a story. They just want to encapsulate some vision of life, and humanity, as complex as both those things are. There’s amazing beauty in that, even when the stories are dark, and while I don’t shy away from the darkness and the ugliness of our existence, I refuse to let us stay there. I can’t believe that that’s all we are, or that we’re destined to stay in the muck, surrounded by ugliness. There’s hope around everything, and I often want to find it. That said, this is just one expression of the collective, and it’s my view on storytelling, and not everyone will see the world in one way only – which is also a great hopeful burst born in the collective, growing along its own course, the stream or the river, the ocean or the atmosphere, and stories that often go far beyond.

              1. When we are stuck in the darkness we aim to find back to the light and to beauty! What about music? How important do you think is music along with poetry?

              2. I think music is the greatest thing human beings have ever discovered or invented. I’m not sure if it’s discovered or invented, but in either case, it’s the greatest thing we have, and the greatest thing we have to give.

  1. I read this post and struggled to figure out how to respond. I’ve read it again and still I struggle. What strikes me the most is the closing paragraph and your use of the word “collective.”

    As an independently published writer, this is something I have struggled with ever since I started publishing. Back then, I started a website called The Self Publisher and invited other self-published authors to join the effort. For a short period of time, it was a good experience. More recently, I started Writers Supporting Writers with a couple of other independently published writers. Both efforts were an attempt at creating a collective of us writer types, particularly those who have not found success the traditional way, and to create a moving force that helps lift all of us up.

    I totally think that we can do more together than separately. But the world is so fragmented and social media contirbutes to that fragmentation, rather than contributing to a collective approach. Over on Twitter, there is the WritingCommunity hashtag and I’ve become convinced that there is actually no community there. When I post on Writers Supporting Writers and share those posts via Twitter, I add that hashtag and it produces absolutely nothing.

    I think part of it is that writers, like many creative types, are more than happy to be alone, to go it alone, and the idea of gatherings and collectives and …. well, it’s just too scary.

    I have had this pipe dream for the last 5-10 years. The dream is of creating a collective publishing enterprise that works with indie authors and hopefully creates more of a ground swell for each of our works than by each of us acting … independently. I still want to figure out how to do that. But … well, I have no idea about how to go about getting it start.

    Meanwhile, as for whether your words have value … yes, they do. You write some of the most innovative, inventive stories there are. Stories that ooze with feeling and loss and hope. That is magical, Trent, what you can do with words. Don’t ever give up. Keep at it. If you were to stop writing, that would be a loss.

    1. I think there probably is a WritingCommunity community over there on Twitter, but I think there is something unique about the Twitter format and the folks with whom it resonates, social media-wise, that keeps them there. They don’t venture out much, is what I’m saying. In other words, Twitter people don’t like to leave Twitter. That’s been my experience, at least.

      1. I view it as being very similar to high school. A variety of cliques and subgroups. If you get in one, there is all sorts of support and encouragement. But, getting in one of those cliques or subgroups on Twitter’s writing community is hard as getting into one in high school. You have to have the right level of snark and cool, and if you don’t you just wander the wilderness.

          1. Twitter is an awful place, I think. Fully of narcissistic, self-promotional people, a truly shallow exercise in navel-gazing. Almost impossible to actually interact with anyone.

        1. I could not agree more. It’s cliques, often ones with a bully mentality, usually the same people who espouse that bullying is bad, but do it themselves when they’re shielded behind the anonymity of an online presence, and comfortable in the embrace of their selected clique. It’s all a bit ridiculous and self-serving, and I figure it’s all doomed to fall apart someday.

    2. Thanks Mark. I wonder if my voice is compatible with much of anything, but that shouldn’t stop me from trying to share it, I figure. So I will.

      In terms of your efforts, it’s a puzzle. Writing is personal, and sharing is odd; being part of a collective is almost like some unspoken narrative, that which we must not speak about… or in which we must not overtly support each other, even though we surely should. There are professions like this too, they undercut each other all the time, rather than lifting themselves up. Instead, they compete with each other. That shouldn’t be the point, especially when we’re talking about storytelling here, and that’s a bit of a noble cause in my mind. An ancient desire, shared by many, an incredibly important thing. Keep trying, Mark. Sooner or later, you will crack the nut.

  2. This was a thought-provoking post, Trent. I won’t even try to understand what you have gone through, being neither an immigrant nor a person of colour. I’m one of the priviledged – a term I loathe, by the way. There shouldn’t be such a term, especially when it is used in a racial manner.

    I think you have to keep sharing your unique and yes, righteous, voice. Keep sharing. Keep sharing. Keep sharing. I like to think more and more people will pay attention. Your stories, your voice, your style are all yours and yours alone and worth the time.

    1. I’m privileged too, Dale. It just took a long struggle to get there. I never forget where I came from, or the struggle. And I will never minimize others because of where they came from. That’s my mission.

      I need to do more to share my voice. It’s it’s own thing, and it may not be a mainstream favourite, and it would frankly hurt me to be ignored if I tried harder to get my voice out there. But I know I have to try, and if it’s failure that I get out of it, I’ve still succeeded at something.

      1. It’s a good mission to have. And the struggle to become privileged is not to be ignored. You earned it.

        Yes, you have to keep sharing your unique non-mainstream voice. I really feel that people are looking for stuff that is not the same old, same old. Keep trying. Don’t give up. Stay true to who you are!

  3. My brain is swirling with thoughts; I’m not sure where to begin, so I’ll just start… I would imagine the questions you ask in your post are asked by all (or nearly all) artists. Why am I creating this? I’ve asked myself that a lot. I’ve come to a split mind about it.

    I write for myself. There are thoughts of stories and characters and scenes in my head, and I like seeing them come to life on the screen through words. My finished poems and stories are meaningful to me. They’ve helped me in the times I’ve written them. And I’m proud when looking through them again.

    But is that completely satisfying my hopes as a writer? Nope. This is the other side of the split mind. Because, yes, it’s okay to say that being anonymous can hurt. I wonder where I fit into the world of other creative work. I’m seen by a small, small, small amount of people. And my heart warms when someone writes a reply on a blog post of one of my writings.

    Your work has meaning — and it has a place in the world. I disagree with you that you don’t make that determination. I think you do, as well as others who are fortunate to read your stories. Each of those people can find meaning in the stories. Your stories can make places within them. Something within your writing can resonate with them. They have for me. I’ve thought about scenes in your stories after reading them. Particularly the story that ends with the character is in a bathroom and she gazes in the fogged-up mirror.

    If you wish to expand your stories’ reach beyond your blog, you could self-publish a book. If you do, I would certainly buy it and leave a review. I have done that with other indie authors and tried to convey the effect of their book on me. Of course, self-publishing a book doesn’t mean that readers will flock to your book and inhale it. Many indie books are anonymous. But a book would be something you could give to family and friends and coworkers (or tell them about it), and they could discover pieces of your imagination.

    Also, you could submit your stories to “magazine” websites that publish fiction. I’d guess that you’ve already considered that, but I’m including it here as an option to attach your stories to balloons and see where they float and land. I wish you well as you consider your writings and the meanings of it.

    1. Dave, thank you for this. I agree with you. Anonymity is a funny course in this quiet stream on the way to some better river. I’m not the best swimmer. But god would I be willing to learn.

      Let’s talk about truth, in my mind. I could self-publish a book. I could self-publish three of them tomorrow if I wanted. And if that exercise plunges me into just more anonymity, I don’t know how I would handle that. It’s the likely outcome. But I fear it. I do. So it’s fear, and nothing else, that motivates me. Same thing that keeps me from submitting my work to lit magazines all that much.

      That said, I have decided to take a different approach and have started submitting. I am trying traditional publishing because I like the idea, for my books, but I may never succeed at that. It’s a possibility I have to face. My friend Mark Paxson self-publishes, and I love what he writes, and will always support him. I appreciate your support, too. Maybe my mindset is just too dreamy, too fantastical. I don’t know what it is. But at its base, there’s fear. I want to be fearless in my writing, but I am not fearless about my writing. That’s the only way I can put it.

  4. I’m surprised to hear you say writing is hard, Trent. You’ve often talked about how the writing flows through you. I’m envious of that, mainly because I actually know what that is like, and it it’s pretty rare for me to experience it. I’m also surprised to hear you describe your writing as dark. I’ve never thought of it as dark, and wouldn’t describe it that way. I would describe it as magical, different, unique, worthwhile. I would not describe it as “righteous” but only because that word has connotations for me that I find disagreeable. I would agree that your writing is “righteous” in the way I think you are using the word.

    I’m not technically an immigrant, but I’ve always felt like one. My mother was born in Brazil, her parents in Poland. On my mother’s side, I’m the first one born in the U.S. I’ve always felt off, out of place, like I don’t belong here. For most of my life that feeling came out as angst, anxiety, or anger. It’s only in recent years that I’ve realized I really just don’t fit in here, and why that is. I don’t share the mindset, or the worldview, and never have. I haven’t had to deal with racism directed against me — that’s one way I do “fit in” here, and I’ve benefited from white privilege. But for most of my life I was blind to that privilege, and it certainly didn’t help me psychologically in any way that I was conscious of. I used to be furious with people who espoused white privilege, now I’m frustrated by those who deny it. Everyone should grow like me, at my pace, right? Right. Anyhoo, this is some of what I’m thinking, having read your post. I’m glad you write, Trent. Please don’t stop.

    1. The words always come easy, but the more personal the content, the harder. I’ll be honest. Writing is like pain relief for me, but it’s most a relief when it’s not near to me. When it’s someone else creating words, someone who isn’t me, and who is writing about a thing that is not me. The closer I get to me, the tougher it gets. In terms of ‘righteous’, the conventional connotation of that word is not at all my favorite, either. It makes me shudder. But I figure it’s a word I’m allowed to reclaim.

      I didn’t know that about your background, Walt. Isn’t it crazy when you realize that some of what you feel is because you just don’t really belong? I think back on many experiences, such difficult ones, and I think that was the core of it. Many people will accept you, even embrace you. But others will simply not accept you because you’re not from here. That said, I’m full of privilege, and I cannot and must not complain. I have a good life. The nuts of it for me is to make sure I’m accepting of others, overtly and consistently. That I’m a champion for others.

      Totally agree about being wary of blindness to privilege. That’s a bit of a struggle, to not gaze too fondly at your own cool beans. Tough tricks and slick ricks, as it were. Thanks for the thoughtful response, Walt. Your words are always meaningful to me.

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