One of my brothers; part of my family; challenged me to write a positive post about the brotherhood of Omega Psi Phi. This is a difficult request to abide by. It's not hard for me to think of famous Omega men: Charles R. Drew, Michael Jordan, Jesse Jackson, Earl Graves, Langhston Hughes, Bill Cosby. And it's not hard for me to think of positive experiences I've had as a brother: the love of fraternal family; stepshows; women; power; the knowledge that I've endured and survived; life lessons.
No, the challenge is difficult because it's not a part of my goal as a writer; nor is it a part of my duty as a writer.
My goal as a writer is not to meet the challenge of presenting a positive picture of my friends, family, race, or country. Not to please, necessarily. Not to anger. Not even to entertain. My goal is to meet Diaghilev's challenge to the poet Cocteau. My goal is To Astonish.
I'm not always successful in meeting that goal: to astonish. But my aim remains the same. I strive for this goal above all others.
I must write. It is something I feel compelled to do. Whether it's in one of the many notebooks floating around my house; or an old journal; or on the back of a cocktail napkin; or on this blog; I'm going to write. I have to.
There are times when the need is less urgent. There are dry spells. There are times when what I've written embarrasses me; times when it doesn't make sense; times when what I've written doesn't exactly capture what I intend. But I need to do it.
My duty as a writer is to be truthful. If I have an iota of talent or ability to convey ideas, feelings, and experiences would I not be doing a disservice to those who take the time to read my words by trading in falsehood? Falsehood: that which condems us to blindness; that which chokes the last bit of air from a small, crowded, room; that which stunts our collective growth. I can think of few greater sins.
Faulkner said much the same:
"There are no longer problems of the spirit. There is only the question: When will I be blown up? Because of this, the young man or woman writing today has forgotten the problems of the human heart in conflict with itself which alone can make good writing because only that is worth writing about, worth the agony and the sweat.
He must learn them again. He must teach himself that the basest of all things is to be afraid; and, teaching himself that, forget it forever, leaving no room in his workshop for anything but the old verities and truths of the heart, the old universal truths lacking which any story is ephemeral and doomed
The poet’s, the writer's, duty is to write about these things."Sphere: Related Content