Friday Speak Out!: Writing The Powerful

Friday, August 25, 2017
by Jeanine DeHoney

There are some stories that need to be written. Not because they are honeyed vignettes of our life or the life of someone we know or imagine and fictionalize but because they are powerful. They are stories, articles, screenplays or novels that are powerful. Words that will unnerve people, tear at their emotions and cause them to think differently, and maybe…hopefully change or take steps to change the world.

As a writer I have always wanted to write those types of stories. Often times I attempted and just scratched the surface, not delving deep enough into those moral, societal and global issues as much as I wanted to because the writing was painful or uncomfortable for me or I thought I might reap hostile responses from those readers whose opinions differed from mine.

I admit that I sometimes thought that as long as there were other writers writing with fire and brimstone about the ills of society; stories about racism and sexism and bigotry and poverty (According to the National Center for Children in Poverty (NCCP) poverty is the single greatest threat to children’s well-being,) and the school to prison pipeline for many minority students and students with disabilities, our healthcare system, the new immigration policy, etc., I could concentrate on other types of writing.

But as I get older and sager and frustrated with what is so reprehensible in our headlines, the voices of those who are broken or marginalized are at full volume in my ear. Their voices remind me that yes, stories that make people smile and laugh and forget about their troubles are valuable and needed but stories that express our struggles, failures and sad truths are essential.

Our voices are important as writers. Our written words are lyrics that can become the song that stays with a person and causes them to hum (protest, boycott, teach tolerance, sign a petition, speak out, etc.) throughout the day. Our written words can also be healing and redemptive.

Although I'm not putting all of my other stories in a lock chest; the nostalgic stories from my childhood, the humorous children’s stories I hope to find a publisher for, the essays on motherhood or wifehood that I hope will give someone a bellyaching laugh along with inspiration; I am resolute in my decision to write words that are more powerful and hones in on what is erroneous in our society, especially right now.

I want to make my dent in this world in the hopes of changing it and although I know in so many ways you and I do that already as writers, parents, teachers, etc. I ask you to join me with a more urgent conviction than you may have and write the powerful, be it one powerful chapter in your novel, one powerful sentence in your essay, or 140 powerful characters to a friend.

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Jeanine DeHoney has had her writing published in several magazines, anthologies and online blogs. Her writing has appeared in Mused-Bella Online, The Write Place At the Write Time, Literary Mama, Mutha Magazine, The Mom Egg, Wow-Woman on Writing-The Muffin's Friday Speak Out., Parent. Co., Brain Child Magazine, Todays Caretaker Magazine, Jerry Jazz Magazine and Rigorous Literary Magazine. She is an essayist in the anthologies Chicken Soup for the African American Woman’s Soul, Here in the Middle, and Theories of HER-an experimental anthology and will have an essay upcoming in an anthology about sisters. Ms. DeHoney is also a contributing writer to Dream Teen Magazine
Would you like to participate in Friday "Speak Out!"? Email your short posts (under 500 words) about women and writing to: marcia[at]wow-womenonwriting[dot]com for consideration. We look forward to hearing from you!


Sioux Roslawski said...

Jeanine--First of all, I lovelovelove the phrase "honeyed vignettes." I guess with your last name, the use of "honey" in your writing is doubly sweet?

Second of all, I agree that the tough-to-tell and tough-to-read stories must be told. I've been writing stories for several years about my experiences as a teacher in Ferguson, Missouri... to no avail. Finally, Chicken Soup chose one for their "My Kind (of) America" anthology. My Ferguson stories are the ones I'm most proud of, because they tell some of the true story of Ferguson.

Thanks for this post, and good luck with your future writing endeavors.

Jeanine said...

Thank you so much for your comment and encouragement Sioux and congratulations for being in the Chicken Soup For The Soul. Anthology and writing the powerful.

Angela Mackintosh said...

YES! This is fantastic, Jeanine! I recently wrote an essay that tackles racism and recognizing internal racism as an Asian-American woman, another that tackles gender issues and pronouns, and several on suicide. Writing about these issues are important to me and it's a powerful feeling when they are published. Thank you for this post--I'm totally with you! :)

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