A writer has but one goal. Connect to the audience.
There’s great power in being able to capture the imagination of readers, introduce them to a wonderful place, filled with interesting people, and then murder the one they liked best, right in front of their very eyes, in the most gruesome way possible.
Clearly, with such great power comes great responsibility.
Take this little column for example.
You all signed up, hoping to have a laugh once in awhile, or maybe at least a smile, but, what happens when I betray that trust and tell you a very sad story about a small child who dreamed of leaving a life of poverty and managed to get a scholarship to a private school, and the school, while it’s in the same city, was more than a three hour walk for the boy, each way, and without enough food, he could barely get there in time for class, and one day, starving, he passes out along the side of the road, and freezes to death?
See what I mean? I broke our little agreement, to give you something light and funny to start your week, and instead I gave you a horribly depressing paragraph. You might even say I manipulated you and preyed upon your compassion for starving children just to make a point.
And, you don’t even know what the point is yet.
The first part is to highlight the callousness of writers who take joy in the suffering of their fans. People joke that writers enjoy doing this, but, they try to believe it isn’t really true that authors could be so gleeful in the pain of others.
Unfortunately, there is much uncomfortable truth in those quips. The times when I’ve written something that brought a reader to tears are some of the proudest moments of my life. There is a very small part of me that is properly ashamed that I am pleased to make people cry.
Writers have learned that tears of pain are the sweetest nectar to be found in the known universe; a feast of fulfilling achievement that perfectly nourishes our black souls.
There are occasions when I’m sad that I chose to write a humor column, because it limits the opportunities for turning you all into emotional wrecks and harvesting your precious eye nectar.
That was disgusting. I promise to never again refer to your tears in such a fashion. Unless it’s really, really, really funny. Or I forget.
On the bright side, sharing laughter is also nourishing to the writer’s soul. It’s a different kind of feast, usually with much less guilt.
And that brings us to the second point.
Most days, I’m much happier to bring you a sprinkling of light to fight against the darkness. I might not always be able to inspire an authentic “out-loud laugh,” but maybe there will be be enough silliness to ward off the gloom and nourish the flame of hope and joy in the world.