Writing and Empathy

As I continue to develop my writing, I find myself increasing more aware of my surroundings, analyzing others around me. I ponder on the motivations of those I run into, either noble or otherwise. I find myself more in tune with their vulnerabilities, their fears, their insecurities, their arrogance, their deception, their hopeful joy, their frustrated sorrow. The more I write, the more empathetic I become. I guess this is my brain rewiring itself so I am in tune with the vibes others put out there every day, which were likely always present but invisible to my embryonic writer’s eyes.

As writers, aren’t we attempting to paint pictures of reality, even if it is the most subtle of things we are unearthing and bringing forth to the light? Isn’t it our duty not only to entertain but to shine a mirror back onto society to reveal an image, flattering or not, about itself? I suppose the most rewarding thing about writing (and consequently reading) is that when done well, there is a sense of accomplishment in comprehending either a simple truth that resonates with us, or perhaps, something more grandiose and profound.

For most of my life, I have been the “strong but silent” type. An observer. While I myself am not the biggest partier in the world, or the most creative, and certainly not the most social, I have had the privilege of crossing paths with such individuals. I take note of how they interact with others, how they speak, how they laugh, what makes them angry, sad, nervous, insecure, fearful, and even aroused. At the same time, I have become more aware of my emotions as they relate to various matters, becoming more self-aware in the process.

I heard an interesting comment from a reader of my work the other day when she told me “I feel like I am taking a tour of your mind.” That’s a scary thought but, when I thought about, somewhat accurate, since my writing really is just an amalgam of my own observations about me and others. Perhaps that is why some suggest that writing is therapeutic, that our brains release endorphins when we write because we gain a sense of accomplishment even when we tackle smaller goals.

The beauty in writing is that, if I am successful, I can help others see the visions I have in my head. I bring those fictional avatars to life and mold them into real flesh and blood characters with whom we love, hate, fear, lust, envy, and pity. Perhaps I can make you feel something you’ve never experienced before, or reminded you of that time you cried just like the main character did. These are all very powerful things.

It’s no wonder that the biggest dictators in society use the power of the written word to provide disinformation, to mislead the masses, to slant the truth in their favour to evoke a response to their liking. It’s also no surprise that the written word can change the world, spark revolutions, provide hope, foster faith, and inspire greatness.

The Written Word is powerful, and I am its humble servant.

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