I was four or five years old the first time I saw a man die.  To be fair, I don’t know that the man died, only that he attempted to cross a street against the light and lost a race with a very fast automobile.  These days, people call me a legalist, and mock me when I wait for the light to change even though there is obviously nobody coming.  Perhaps if they had my experience they would think differently.

My point is that each of us has a distinctive voice that comes from our background and our experiences.  Even children from the same home can experience life in very different ways.  There are a million books that tell you “How To” write.  Many of them have very useful information, but as you are growing and learning, remember to always keep your own voice.  Don’t try to be somebody else.

I had a dream last night that a man was put to death based solely on the surety and sincerity with which I wrote a casual story.  It was the closest that I have come this week to not having a nightmare.  It was a teaching point, to me anyway.  Words have a tremendous amount of power.  What are you trying to accomplish with your words?  Do you want to amuse people?  Do you want them to agree with you about some moral issue?   Are you attempting to incite or elicit specific emotions in your reader?

The feeling that I have been wrestling with lately is this.  My writing is limited because I am afraid to let go.  I am afraid to express that part of me that is not a reflection of what I see, but actually me.  The passion, the pain, the arrogance, the fear that made some of my poetry so powerful when I was younger is still lacking from many of my stories. 

If you want to evoke emotion in your reader, ask yourself honestly.  What makes you feel that way?  What causes you to feel pleasure or pain that you don’t want to feel?  Find your inner truth, bring your demons to light and embrace your madness.  Your weakness, along with your strength, is what makes you who you are.

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