Welcome back to another episode of Writer’s Quote Wednesday Writing Challenge. As you may notice, I have decided to go back to the traditional WQW for now. You can imagine my excitement when Colleen stated this was OK. If you can’t imagine it, below is my happy dance:
OK, to the point.
My inspiration today comes from James Baldwin:
“All art is a kind of confession, more or less oblique. All artists, if they are to survive, are forced, at last, to tell the whole story; to vomit the anguish up.”
― James Baldwin
I love Baldwin’s last line “Vomit the anguish Up”. At first I thought about struggle literally but then I thought about writing and combining the two. This got me thinking about the struggle of writing and struggles incorporated into writing. This lead me to Baldwin’s quote. It still has me pondering, but what I got out of it for now is how each artist, writer in this sense, have a responsibility to tell the truth and in so doing have the courage to speak whatever struggle that truth reveals. This struggle can be historical, personal, or emotional but at some point a writer has to dig deep. I think this is because good writing is about the struggle and how said struggle has been survived. It could be the villain’s survival, the heroes survival, or the writer him / herself. Why? Well, that’s real life. Struggle makes people strong. Where is the overcoming if not for the struggle?
“James Baldwin — the grandson of a slave — was born in Harlem in 1924. The oldest of nine children, he grew up in poverty, developing a troubled relationship with his strict, religious stepfather. As a child, he cast about for a way to escape his circumstances. As he recalls, “I knew I was black, of course, but I also knew I was smart. I didn’t know how I would use my mind, or even if I could, but that was the only thing I had to use.” By the time he was fourteen, Baldwin was spending much of his time in libraries and had found his passion for writing.
During this early part of his life, he followed in his stepfather’s footsteps and became a preacher. Of those teen years, Baldwin recalled, “Those three years in the pulpit – I didn’t realize it then – that is what turned me into a writer, really, dealing with all that anguish and that despair and that beauty.” Many have noted the strong influence of the language of the church, the language of the Bible, on Baldwin’s style: its cadences and tone. Eager to move on, Baldwin knew that if he left the pulpit he must also leave home, so at eighteen he took a job working for the New Jersey railroad.
After working for a short while with the railroad, Baldwin moved to Greenwich Village, where he worked for a number of years as a freelance writer, working primarily on book reviews. He caught the attention of the well-known novelist, Richard Wright – and though Baldwin had not yet finished a novel, Wright helped him secure a grant with which he could support himself as a writer. In 1948, at age 24, Baldwin left for Paris, where he hoped to find enough distance from the American society he grew up in to write about it.
After writing a number of pieces for various magazines, Baldwin went to a small village in Switzerland to finish his first novel. Go Tell It on the Mountain, published in 1953, was an autobiographical work about growing up in Harlem. The passion and depth with which he described the struggles of black Americans were unlike anything that had been written. Though not instantly recognized as such, Go Tell It on the Mountain has long been considered an American classic.”
That’s it for me. I hope you enjoyed this weeks Writer’s Quote Wednesday Segment. Until next week, yall be great.