To start the day with the newspaper or to start the day with freewriting. That is the question. Well, for me, anyway.
Today it was the newspaper. Bad move. Admittedly, I’m a news junkie in spurts, depending on what’s going on in the world. This morning, I almost passed on the paper because Brett Favre was on the front page (Why? Can’t he just actually retire already?) and it bugs me when more important stuff is buried in subsequent pages to allow for the random sport figure’s spotlight. But I opened the paper up anyway and that was that. I grumbled over the Taliban‘s latest tactics, mourned for losses in Pakistan, laughed at Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty‘s paltry showing in the latest Iowa polls around possible presidential candidates, thought about the whole debate over a mosque near Ground Zero. Forty-five minutes later, I was very far away from writing any poetry.
And there you have one of the biggest battles this writer wages on a daily basis: the battle of big important world news that needs attention from all of us versus the desire to create pieces of writing that take people out of their daily reality for a minute. Art is all its forms can be a laser focus on problems in the world or it can offer an alternative to that which overwhelms us. And, yes, that’s important.
So, do artists have a responsibility to remove themselves once in a while from the barrage of world news so they can hone that offering that allows people to take a breath? Or, is their responsibility more to stay engaged, to use what’s going on like a hammer to shatter harmful practices? Is it both? What do you do as a writer? And how do you start your morning?
DO A KIND THING
Reading about the many people injured by war, flood, and other events in today’s paper reminded me that Doctors Without Borders is out there trying to help without regard to politics, religion, country. They do amazing work. Check them out here.