Saturday, May 21, 2011



In past blog posts, we've talked about various writing techniques such as building characters, story line structuring, being creative, taking notes, sticking to your writing schedule, etc., and this week we're going to focus on writing responsibly. You're probably asking, "what is that about?" Well, living in the United States, we have lots of creative freedom to think, speak and write whatever we want, regardless if others agree with our points of view, which is why many of us writers enjoy what we do, but there is a fine line to being creative and being responsible.

I remember one of my English teachers posed a question to his sixth grade class. "Students, is the pen mightier than the sword?" The children looked around the classroom with a look of confusion on most of our faces and some shrugged their shoulders, perhaps because they didn't understand the question, while others waited to see who would respond first. One classmate yelled out that the sword was mightier, as he demonstrated by standing up, swinging his arms and hands wildly, as if he were a ninja. Our teacher smiled and asked anyone else to respond. There was a bit of chatter among the students, and more hollered out the sword because it can take a person out.

Of course, there was no way I was going to agree with the rest of my classmates, so I raised my hand and said the pen is mightier. My teacher leaned back on his desk with arms folded in front of him. "Kimberly, why do you say that," he asked? My response, "the pen is mightier because what you write will last a lifetime, whereas if you use a sword to kill a person, once they are dead, that's the end of it. Words are lasting, the sword is not." The classmates were whispering and pointing their fingers at me, and at first I was afraid because I thought maybe I was wrong, but something inside me said to stand firm with my answer.

Our teacher looked at me and said, "Kimberly that's a great answer and very insightful." Needless to say, this opened up a debate in our English class. My teacher pointed out that my answer was correct and he divided our class up into sides and asked us to give examples of why we each felt either the pen or the sword was the mightiest. I always loved English class, and especially when we would have debate, such as the one I mentioned.

I knew very early in life just how powerful words can be. The funny thing about it, words are more powerful now than ever before because of the Internet and the way we socialize with one another. Everyone writes on a daily basis, through our social networks or texting a family member or friend, but make no mistake, words are a powerful source of communication. This is why I am always stating to my fans or anyone who will listen, be careful of the words you speak, and, more importantly, of the words you write, because once words are born, you cannot go back and abort them.
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Case in point, recently an author named, Satoshi Kanazawa, wrote an article entitled "Why Are Black Women Less Physically Attractive Than Other Women?," which sparked much heated debate among black women, and women in general.  He posted this article on Psychology Today.  The article goes on to say, Satoshi Kanazawa used Add Health methodology (a national, federally funded survey of over 20,000 teenagers that began in 1994-95 and has continued into respondent’s adulthood) to come to the dubious conclusion that black women are the least attractive women among white, Asian and Native American women, but that black men are the most attractive among the same ethnic groups. The reason, according to Kanazawa? Black women and men, descendants of Africa, have more testosterone. The “good news” is that black women are not less attractive because of weight or their potentially lower intelligence, just their excess masculine hormones. (Black men may be cheered by the fact that despite THEIR implied lower intelligence, their testosterone makes them much more attractive than all other men.)  To read more on this ridiculous article, go to Black America   Hmm, do you think Mr. Kanazawa was being very responsible when he wrote that article?

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Are you still not convinced that the pen is mightier?  Do you remember when Mommie Dearest, the movie, came out back in 1981 starring Faye Dunaway, based off of the book written by Joan Crawford's adoptive daughter, Christina Crawford? I always enjoyed watching Joan Crawford's movies on TV and thought what a beautiful woman she was until Mommie Dearest came out.  Christina definitely proved that the pen is mightier than the sword because, even if everything she wrote were lies, which I believed everything she stated, her words will always live on, and she has tainted Joan Crawford's reputation with them.  According to Christina, her mother didn't leave her anything in the Will, but look at the legacy she left on the world, not to mention, she gained wealth.  I hate to admit it, but I certainly changed my view of the movie starlet, after reading the book and seeing the movie.  I gained a whole new respect for the written word.  Mommie Dearest.

So, fellow and future authors, we have a certain amount of responsibility when we are creating. Whether what we are writing is fiction or fact, your words impact others tremendously, and I caution you to think about that when you are writing. I realize some writers put stories out for shock value and to gain readership, some do it to change your views and opinions, but no matter what the reason is you are writing, remember, once you put it out there~~there is no turning back! Writers have a tremendous amount of power, more so than some may realize, then again, most writers do recognize this and use it to his/her own advantage. When creating characters or story lines, based off of people you know, be careful that you're not hurting those you care about. I am often asked by friends to put them into one of my stories, but I am cautious when doing so because I may paint a character differently than what my friend may think of himself, and it can cause hurt feelings.

Write responsibly, and have fun! Until next time, Peace, Love and Write ON! writers.

Kimberly Ranee Hicks, Author/Poet
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