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So many of the issues surrounding us are emotional. There are facts, there are conclusions, there are suggestions for change... and then there are these emotions, which can be enormous.

So how do you write about them?

Lately, I've written a couple diaries about elephant poaching. It's already an emotional topic for me; elephants are special creatures. (They'd make better humans than we do, in a way.)

Many of the conservation organizations I follow have been writing lately about the ties between poaching and terrorism. It's important to follow the trails for many reason, and I want to write that diary, but I find myself a little overwhelmed.

Elephants are further in the news lately because of the UN Environment Assembly meeting in Kenya this week.

So: how do you write about topics that raise deep emotions in you? How did diarists deal with the Trayvon Martin case, the Tea Party and their multitudinous offenses against the people of America... any of that? (Maybe poaching is not a problem on that scale, but we focus on what we can, when we can, I think.)

Any help?

Thank you!

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Comment Preferences

  •  I find it hard (6+ / 0-)

    Because I get so overwhelmed, I tend to shut down a bit and rely on stating the facts really clearly.

    Occasionally, after I've written something very straight and factually, I'll go back in and put some passion in, let it seep through a bit on a revision.

    It's tough, but it's usually the best sort of writing.

  •  Go for it. (6+ / 0-)

    Write your heart out.  Then put it away overnight.  Then come back to it, and apply your head to it.  

    The greatest capacity we have as human beings is to think and feel at the same time.  Authentic, good writing, conveys a truth that others can believe.  

    The best diary I wrote here (of the very few I have written) was about my mother who had a DNR directive.  It's the best writing I've done in a diary, here.  It didn't get a lot of hits, but it was good writing.  And I am a writer, by trade.

    The thing is there are different kinds of writing.  My DNR diary was good writing but it didn't succeed as communication because so few people actually read it.  ie, it worked as art but not as conversation.  

    You may want to think about what you want to accomplish in a diary.  Sometimes it helps to think about what outcome you want your readers to feel, or think, or do.  And work your writing to that end.  

    You could also ask your readers for feedback within the diary, more than simply tipping or rec'ing.  

    Whatever you do, Good luck!

    "Out of Many, One Nation." This is the great promise of these United States of America -9.75 -6.87

    by Uncle Moji on Fri Jun 27, 2014 at 01:28:18 PM PDT

    •  Thank you! (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Uncle Moji, jessical

      In the land of my emotional landscape, I'd like for people to rise up and stop buying ivory, boycott everything Chinese until THEY stop buying and save us from our need to wipe out creatures. That's not feasible, even with my best writing.

      But if there is one person who becomes open to scale of the problem after reading one of diaries... then I will have done what I can.

      My mother had a DNR as well. The scale of that emotional writing I can understand...

      •  It's how we make change, one person at a time (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        LunarEclipse, jessical

        You need to write your truth, and perhaps think about it as the one person who could "become open to the scale of the problem after reading" your words.  

        It's a more possible goal, and I suspect you have already accomplished that.  

        Our work to change this world is mostly an incremental one, and it is hard work, that some times seems useless...but it's not.  It really is not.  You make a difference, and what an opportunity these diaries are to do so.  

        You might want to scale your diaries from wanting to accomplish all those things at the same time in one diary:  rising up, stop buying ivory, boycott everything from China...(noble goals but pretty big ones) to one story at a time.  Get us to see why these intelligent and noble creatures deserve more than to be murdered for trinkets.  For their loving and bonded families to be decimated for human vanity and greed.  People here also respond well to exposure of corporate greed as an impetus for the destruction of human, animal, and plant life.  We get it.

        And then write it as if you are one person talking to another, in our most human way, about what should be a most human value - compassion.  

        Good luck.

        "Out of Many, One Nation." This is the great promise of these United States of America -9.75 -6.87

        by Uncle Moji on Fri Jun 27, 2014 at 02:11:45 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  Write from your heart. (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        LunarEclipse

        “Listen--are you breathing just a little, and calling it a life?” ― Mary Oliver

        by weezilgirl on Sat Jun 28, 2014 at 01:07:19 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  well for one thing (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    LunarEclipse, jessical

    you keep on writing because if you turn the light bulb on for even one person you've accomplished something.  

     a suggestion I would make is that you tell stories about the elephants and personalize them to people.  I do this all the time with wolves and bears and other wonderful creatures and I have touched the hearts of many people.   I got to hand feed a marshmallow to a grizzly bear once, how cool is that?  If you can bring the animals to life for your audience you will make a bigger impact than you can with statistics, etc.  

     sometimes you just open your heart and let the words come.  I've had experiences in talking to people since there are not so many opportunities to write, but sometimes I feel that the animals are speaking through me, and far more eloquently than I could ever do.

     just keep speaking your piece, you do make a difference.

    sometimes the dragon wins

    by kathy in ga on Fri Jun 27, 2014 at 03:06:49 PM PDT

  •  In my experience as a reader (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    jgilhousen, jessical, LunarEclipse

    (I don't write about emotional subjects too often, and I'm not overly emotional, anyway), it is less the diary itself, than the comments that will throw sand in your eyes.  You, as a diarist, have control over the content of the writing.  You have no control, however, over the response.  I've seen many examples of diaries about controversial/emotional/contentious subjects that were very well written, only to watch the diarist completely melt down in the comment thread.

    The only example I can think of at the moment isn't a great one.  Someone (not a regular) wrote a diary about how bad milk can be for us and for the environment.  The diarist made many good points, and the diary, itself was, as I recall, quite thought-provoking.

    However, it took about 3 exchanges with readers in the comment section before the diarist was screaming about how we were all idiots and didn't we realize that MILK IS FILLED WITH PUUUUUUUUSSSSSSSS!!!

    So, write the diary - which I'm sure you will do well - but know that you can only control your own message and don't let readers make your head explode.  

    "Just because your voice reaches halfway around the world doesn't mean you are wiser than when it reached only to the end of the bar." ~ Edward R. Murrow

    by CJB on Fri Jun 27, 2014 at 04:39:02 PM PDT

  •  First of all (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    jessical, LunarEclipse

    Stick to your topic.

    Conflating elephant poaching with Trayvon with Tea Party with whales with whatever, gets you no where.

    Those that have written on those topics have done so from an informed perspective.

    If its elephants for you (its whales for me) then just do that.  I have Sea Shepards.  What you got?

    "When you're wounded and left on Afghanistan's plains, And the women come out to cut up what remains, Jest roll to your rifle and blow out your brains An' go to your Gawd like a soldier." Rudyard Kipling

    by EdMass on Fri Jun 27, 2014 at 04:48:40 PM PDT

  •  With a moderately neutral tone (4+ / 0-)

    You can't be entirely cold and neutral, about emotionally heightened subjects.

    But the writing intent is to lead to a response, from the information provided. Not to tell people what their response should be.

  •  There aren't any rules (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Garrett, LunarEclipse

    But for the elephants, I would say, tell their story.  Not just the bad parts.  So the bad parts are in context and we can imagine, maybe, being an elephant in a dwindling group in a shrinking and changing habitat, while getting popped for our teeth.  Or a poacher.  Or a ranger.  A window into it that is about them, not your emotion.  It is a trick and a kind of magic I think to put the emotion into the story so that it gives it power instead of an icky icing.  I am still practicing.  

    Or, cut lose.  Some essays can and should be written as cries from the heart.  Fewer recs and readers.   Sometimes better art.

    Sentiment does surprisingly well around here, but doesn't make you a better writer or person imnsho.  But if your goal is to get public information out about an organization you've vetted and respect, then maybe that is all that is required or necessary.  I find it hard to write diaries that handle emotion and are not received as sentiment.  Barking at the sentimental drops interest and readership.   Gets a rec from me though :}

    And if you can (I don't, sadly) give the reader an action at the end, a concrete step they can take to address the harm.

    ...j'ai découvert que tout le malheur des hommes vient d'une seule chose, qui est de ne savoir pas demeurer en repos dans une chambre.

    by jessical on Fri Jun 27, 2014 at 08:30:13 PM PDT

  •  I am writing a book about cowboys (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    LunarEclipse

    and I am telling it from my perspective. My perspective is the personal things that people did and really affected my emotions. I write about finding a soulmate in a Navajo cowboy who is much younger than me and  we're on the same wave length. We could look at one another and know what the other was thinking.

    The stuff that stirs emotions because it is coming from the heart.

    “Listen--are you breathing just a little, and calling it a life?” ― Mary Oliver

    by weezilgirl on Sat Jun 28, 2014 at 02:29:31 PM PDT

  •  Writing Helped Me (0+ / 0-)

    I was greatly affected by Trayvon Martin's death.  I did not know him, but when I heard that child screaming for help, it pierced my soul and I was wounded.  For weeks, I could not sleep well.  I would feel nauseous, and lose my appetite when eating just at the thought of what happened to Trayvon and how people covered-up his murder.

    I found my healing through writing about Trayvon Martin.  I felt enraged so I was gonna get Zimmerman and his protectors.  I decided to uncover every fact that showed it was murder and a cover-up.  As I wrote and researched, I would become furious at times and would have to take a walk.  I struggled to not hate Zimmerman.

    I used the anger energy to research and write the book.  I made Trayvon a promise I would do something to help him.  Today, I can tell you that I sleep peacefully now.  I am able to think about other things.  

    Anyone can get my book for free just by passing a Trayvon Martin fact test.  Visit https://ginamcgill.com for more information.  The book is called the State of Florida v. Trayvon Martin (A Murder Cover-Up & Obtaining Justice).

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