Just over a year ago, my family was hit by a devastating tragedy. It was not something we expected; it hit us hard and suddenly. It also had ripples out into the communities my family was part of, affecting people beyond just us. I could write about what happened – indeed, some people might say that it is relevant to some of the things that the OMP was set up to do. But I’m not going to. In the last year, I have been over those events more times than I care to remember. Instead, I am going to write about the effects our experiences can have.
We are all the sum of our experiences. They shape our beliefs, our thoughts, and our deeds. It is also impossible to predict how our experiences will affect us. Something that seems trivial at the time may come back to haunt us, while something that was headline news may fade into the background after a week or two. We just don’t know. However, as creative beings, we have a duty to consider these things.
As a writer, one of the first pieces of advice I received was “Write what you know.” The point of that advice was to help me put feeling into my work and to help the people who read it connect to it. But, I have to be careful. Different people have had different experiences, and so what I write will affect them differently. And, as I cannot predict what effect my words will have, I have to be sure that I show what they mean to me. Of course, whoever reads them will have a different take, but it is my job to share my take on things.
This doesn’t just apply to writing. It applies to any form of creative work, be it music, acting, art or whatever. As creators, we try to bring our audience into another world, where they can experience new things and where we can change the way they think.
I am not arguing for – or against – trigger warnings, safe spaces, X-cards or any of those things that are debated in the press and on the internet. They have their place and their uses. Instead, I am asking us to remember that what we do tells other people about who we are and how we perceive things.
It’s an awful responsibility to create things and share them.
OMP Admin Note: John Nedwill is a writer, OMP Network member, and a regular #OneMillionProject blogger. His work can be found on Wattpad.com and in the OMP short story anthologies to be published by Dark Ink Press in the near future.