Skin Humanity

“We are all brothers under the skin – and, I, for one, would be willing to skin humanity to prove it”. – Ayn Rand

 

That’s what writers are supposed to do – skin humanity. But how can I be realistic in my writing, how can my novel be meaningful if I’m too afraid to be honest?

Lately I noticed that I’d started doing something I’d never done before – I found myself editing what I said or wrote so as not to step on any toes, hurt any feelings. And that’s just stupid. Everyone is going to hurt someone, piss someone off, at some point. It’s part of being human. We all think and feel differently.

I’ve never done this before, never been afraid of what others would think of me or my thoughts.

 

“We are all a little weird and life’s a little weird, and when we find someone whose weirdness is compatible with ours, we join up with them and fall in mutual weirdness and call it love”. – Dr. Seuss

 

Everyone is different. But underneath, we all have similar parts. We hurt. We love. We breathe and we die. We try to find hope in everything or we fall into dismay and suffer in all things. We struggle to find our place in life and then struggle to keep a hold on it, on ourselves.

Identity is such a strange thing. It sneaks up on us. Not something measured by strict parameters or rankings, but instead it’s a balanced challenge, something we fight to discover. Its ever changing because we’re always changing.

How we define ourselves is altered by others and our own thoughts and opinions, desires, weaknesses, and strengths. Our loves, our obsessions. The reasons we fight, cry, smile. Scream.

 

“Better to write for yourself and have no public, than to write for the public and have no self.” – Cyril Connolly

 

We’re all so wrapped up in ourselves or in the social popularity we wish to achieve or impress that we forget ourselves in the process, ultimately cancelling out any “us” there is to find.

And if we’re going to “skin humanity”, regardless of how we’re going to do this, we first need to skin ourselves. Who are we? Why? Is that something we’re okay with?

Yes, if you skin yourself, flay the lies and deceptions and fake skin away, you’ll have a “you” which might hurt some feelings, might be a bit too harsh, blunt, honest. But I’d take being myself over faking it so as not to hurt anyone’s feelings.

I may be blunt, but I’m not cruel. There is a difference. You have to learn to be okay with being yourself, even if that means not everyone likes or agrees with you.

That’s the only way to write (or sing or create whatever it is you create) and have some meaning glare up from the pages and smack the reader in the heart with something that means something to them.

 

“I don’t know the key to success, but the key to failure is trying to please everyone. – Bill Cosby

 

I love reading a good book, hearing a great song, finding a new artist. And for me to fall in love with them, they have to have some kind of spark that stabs me and keeps me wanting more. A good story has to touch on the truth of a subject people otherwise wouldn’t touch. People don’t like complicated, sticky subjects. Give that subject immortality and a girlfriend who likes to set things on fire, and hot damn – they won’t just love you and your work for it, they’ll think about what you really mean in the back of their minds, when no one is around, and wonder if that’s what you meant.

And that’s the other great thing about hidden truths in all great books, songs, etc. – they have more than one meaning, one truth, one thing to say. They mean what you need them to mean. They point out the harsh reality that you’ve been ignoring. They tell you something, they get under your skin and breathe life into you.

 

“The opposite of love is not hate, it’s indifference. The opposite of art is not ugliness, it’s indifference. The opposite of faith is not heresy, it’s indifference. And the opposite of life is not death, it’s indifference.” – Elie Wiesel

 

Don’t be indifferent. Be yourself. Or else, really, what’s the point? Live for yourself or you’re not living. You’re just here, going along with others’ lives, a shadow of yourself, emaciated and struggling to exist.

I hope your ears aren’t bleeding. I love hearing a good quote and sometimes I feel like blabbering on about them. So I know that was all a bit scattered and random, and vague, but hey, that’s me in a nutshell.

Not really – but that’s my current mood. 😉 If you skinned me, you’d probably get lost in the crazy. I balance being blunt with weirdness. That’s just how I am. It’s working well so far, but that doesn’t mean that I don’t have disagreements or people who don’t like me because of how I feel.

But I refuse to blow rainbows up your skirt. I am who I am and I feel how I feel. And when I write, it is to skin humanity.

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2 Comments

Filed under Stream of Consciousness

2 responses to “Skin Humanity

  1. Sarah Hawkins

    This was amazing. I struggled with this a lot in college. I went to a conservative Christian college that, although the people were wonderful, felt a little oppressive at times. I was terrified of offending someone, that they would think I’m less of a godly person because I was purposely tempting someone to sin. And yes, some people are more prone to sin by reading. Hell, I am. But I’m not going to censor truth to try to baby people I their own lives. I want, with my words, to challenge. To confront. To push people to think.

  2. You bring up some important points. I absolutely agree that in order for our words to ring true, we must know ourselves first. I also agree that we can’t write to please anyone else other than ourselves. If we aren’t happy with the end product, chances are our intended audience won’t be either.

    “I may be blunt, but I’m not cruel. There is a difference. You have to learn to be okay with being yourself, even if that means not everyone likes or agrees with you.” YES! I have struggled with this in the past. In the end it’s all about how comfortable you are looking in the mirror. I don’t want to feel like a fraud because I sugar coated things to spare someone else’s feelings. What if looking at a hard truth is the very thing someone else needs in order to grow as a person? I may be weird, but that’s how I think sometimes.

    Anyway, I love this post. Not only as from a writer’s perspective, but from a human perspective. Life isn’t always rainbows and sunshine. The truth isn’t always a nice thing. But if we’re willing to take a moment and look at things from a different angle, we’re willing to grow on a human level. I like blunt and weird. I also like my skin. Please, let me keep it? 😉

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