January 15, 2016

Thinking out loud

Good morning, friends! I know, I know, I don't blog much lately. Or, like, at all. Forgive me.

I felt like I had to say something today, though. Like I had to speak out, at least a little, to say what's on my mind.

Here's the thing. It's been a weird, sad, bizarre week. It's been full of death (Bowie! Rickman! You will both be so missed! So many others, too! F-you, cancer!). It's been full of public displays of grief that are both heart-wrenching and cathartic. I sometimes think that these kinds of deaths can bring us together, at least briefly, as we all collectively mourn the passing of...well...of art, I guess. And brilliance. And people we admire.

For me, though, this week has been full of life, too. Anxiety. Terror. Panic.

Because I wrote a thing on LitReactor, and that thing was about rape, and I swear...I'm so programmed to try to make people happy that it's HARD for me to know something I wrote might piss people off.

I had a panic attack the day the piece went live. I knew it would reach a broad audience, and I knew some people wouldn't like it.

I even begged my editors to read it carefully before they hit the Publish button on it; I was so afraid I'd done something wrong. 

Because here's the thing: whenever I write, it's my own Leah-ish brand of thinking out loud. Even this. I work through things by writing about them. Every book, every story... every single opinion essay I've ever written. I figure things out by writing. I think out loud. I muse. I almost never know what I'm going to write before I write it.

I start with a question, and I see if I can find any answer to it.

Since I suffer from a supreme lack of self-confidence, so I always doubt that I'll get to the Single Right Answer.

But I try to figure stuff out.

It's what I do.

Read anything I've written and you'll see the struggle. In the zombie books, I'm figuring out how far I think I would go if facing certain situations. What would I do, facing the end of the earth. That's why that series is written entirely in the first person narrative, though the character perspective switches by chapter. What would I do in these situations? I think about that, and then I usually have the character do the opposite.

In Heartless, you'll see me musing about a lot of things. Life, death. Self-sacrifice. The love of a daughter. The love of a best friend. Gah! You even see me working through my own college relationship with my first (real) boyfriend through the tumultuous struggles of Jo and Eli.

I think out loud. It's what I do.

So that's why I panic when I think out loud (and very publicly) on super-sensitive subjects like rape.

Because here's another thing: lots of people on the Internet think they know everything. Lots of writers out there, when they publish inflammatory blog posts about sensitive subjects like rape, think they have the Single Right Answer. And they DO NOT LIKE IT when your answer(s) differ from theirs.

So honestly. I was terrified I was going to get  beat up by the Internet this week, simply for asking questions and posing a few possible answers.

But something amazing happened instead. Something incredible, even.

People read my post, my questions, my possible answers, my theories...and they started offering their opinions. Not their Single Right Answers. Their own theories. Their own questions. The discourse on the actual article on LitReactor was (mainly) polite and respectful. The comments were long and almost as think-out-loud-ish as if I'd been writing them. (I wasn't. I didn't know any of the commenters, I don't think.) 

The article's been viewed by thousands (which blows my mind). Chuck Palahniuk shared a link on his Facebook fan page, which always drives hits way up. There was a Reddit thread about it. The comments everywhere have been startling in number. There have been some nasty-grams, of course. There always will be.

But the discussion? The actual, reasonable discussion? It's been incredible.

I've learned so much this week. So much from survivors. So much about the way people view fiction. So much about how much we ALL care about this issue.

This morning, I saw a tweet from a stranger. "Thanks for writing this," he said. "It really made me think. Made me work my brain muscles."

And that, my friends, made it all sooooooo worth it for me.

I guess I'll continue to think out loud. I guess I'm doing it at this very moment. 

And so long as, every so often, I can make other people think, too...then I guess I'm doing my job.

Happy musings, everyone!

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