Why It’s Hard To Write About Uncomfortable Things, and Why We Need To Do It Anyway

If you visit this website frequently, you realize that–other than my fiction–I tend to focus on fairly noncontroversial topics like movies, books, TV shows, and sports.  Sure, movie fans can get worked up, as can book lovers, but it’s not like anyone from my personal life is going to stop talking to me because of my take on Justice League.

My fiction is a different matter.  I’ve dealt with miscarriage, politics, religion, and everything else society tells us to avoid discussing, but I’ve done so with nuance and embedded within the lives of my characters.

On this blog, though, where anyone can pop in with minimal effort, I exercise quite a bit of self-restraint.

Do I have opinions about Donald Trump?  Of course.  Do I think about the NFL and its flag controversy?  Absolutely.  Do I firmly believe we have severe problems in our great nation regarding class and race?  Definitely.  But I tend to avoid writing about those things because, well, I don’t want to deal with the fallout.

I will often talk myself out of addressing those topics because I fear professional complications, personal ramifications, or even violent repercussions against my family.  Frankly, it’s easier to say nothing–to avoid making waves.

But here’s the thing–I can avoid making waves.  The fact that I have every advantage in the world is not lost upon me.  I can sit back, keep my mouth shut, and keep living a pretty sweet life.  No one is bothering me.  No one is oppressing me.  No one is attacking me.  No one is threatening me.  I can stay the course and be just fine because of my lot in life.

Is that right?

I don’t think it is.

Some would disagree, but I feel that I’ve been given a gift in that I can express myself through the written word.  My ideas flow through my fingers fairly concisely and articulately.  I am able to write about important issues whereas others can’t.

But I often choose not to.

Is that right?  If I believe in something, and if the expression of my beliefs could have positive implications for others, am I under a moral obligation to voice those thoughts?

I think I am.

Going forward, I’m going to strive to write about topics that I deem important regarding politics, social justice, religion, and community.

It terrifies me to do so.

Which is why I know I should follow through with this endeavor.

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(Did you enjoy this article?  Check out Scott William Foley’s latest book HERE!)

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Free Samples Of My Fiction

I’m excited to announce that free samples of my work are now available at my website.  Among them you’ll find stories delving into horror, religion, family dynamics, love, humor, and empowerment.  If you like them, I hope you’ll consider checking out my two short story collections and novel.

Just click on the link to find them:

https://scottwilliamfoley.com/sample-stories/

“A Christmas Confrontation” – My December News and Views Short Story (Now Online!)

Traditionalist James Henderson is enraged and he’s got a bone to pick with Marty Yaple, a youth minister.  In fact, James is so angry that he raids Marty’s church, catching Marty off guard.  It’s James, though, who is surprised in the end, because Marty turns out to be someone other than who James envisaged, and because the minister helps James realize that his real issue isn’t with Marty’s Christmas Eve service—Get Jiggy With Jesus’ Birthday—but with something else entirely.

But just what is at the heart of James’ fury?  How does Marty help James deal with his ire?  What is so different about Marty that James hadn’t expected?  To learn these answers, read “A Christmas Confrontation” in this month’s issue of News and Views for the Young at Heart.

“Think Higher. Feel Deeper.” – Elie Wiesel At Illinois State University

On October 7th I had the good fortune to spend the better part of the day and night learning from Elie Wiesel, acclaimed humanitarian and author of Night (among many other works).

I first attended his question and answer session at Milner Library from 3:30 to 4:30.  It was soon obvious that Mr. Wiesel, even at his advanced age, was by far the smartest person in the room.  He answered questions for a solid hour, and he did so gracefully, articulately, and honestly.  While his voice was frail, his words were powerful, and I think everyone in the room was deeply moved by his frank responses to a series of thoughtful questions.  Some paraphrased highlights among those answers include the fact that he would not comment on who he endorsed for the next presidency, but he added that he found American politics getting uglier with each passing decade-particularly the last thirty years.  He said he does not forgive Nazi Germany for the Holocaust, but he would always forgive an individual should they apologize.  He said he had more sympathy for the children of killers than anyone else, because they often carry the burden of their parents’ guilt.  He said that he did not think the world would ever learn to be peaceful, because if it hadn’t learned from the atrocities of the Holocaust, what could possibly make a difference now?  However, he amended that statement by saying we must never lose hope, and we must always strive to make a difference for the children in the world.  He emphasized the need to protect and care for humanity’s children, and then quoted Scripture about never standing idly by.

I’ve done a few question and answer sessions myself in regards to my writing, and I can tell you firsthand it is both exhausting and stressful.  You must keep on your toes with your impromptu responses and hope you don’t come off sounding like an imbecile.  Mr. Wiesel’s probably answered the same general questions a thousand times, but all of his replies sounded genuine, original, and produced specifically for that person asking the question.  He never appeared nervous, and he truly had a calming presence that I found quite unique.    

At the end of the question and answer session, they asked that we all remain in place while he was escorted out of the room by security.  I would learn later that evening by his candor that many in the world find his honesty threatening and would seek to harm him.

Consequently, I was amazed by how many people showed up at Milner Library for his question and answer session; however, that wonderful turnout was nothing compared to his presentation later that evening at the Bone Student Center …

We arrived at Braden Auditorium in the Bone Student Center around 6:15 p.m. for his 7:00 p.m. address.  The center teemed and we were lucky to find seats in the very last row of the main level.  As we sat for forty-five minutes, people kept flooding in, and my heart burst with pride in the people of Central Illinois.  So many showed up to listen to this man, there literally weren’t enough seats in the mammoth auditorium which can hold almost 3500 people.  Can you imagine?  On a rainy Tuesday night?  My faith in people’s respect for intellectualism quadrupled that night.

When Mr. Wiesel appeared on stage, he sat at a simple table with a white cloth covering it and a single microphone.  His security flanked him on either side in the shadows, for he had a single spotlight shining down upon him.  The auditorium remained well-lit, so everywhere you looked you saw thousands of people hanging upon his every word.

This time Mr. Wiesel offered a prepared talk, though he sprinkled some tidbits from his afternoon at Milner Library into it.  He spoke again about our responsibility to the children, that we must never stand idly by, and he reminded us that genocide still occurs in places like Myanmar, Cambodia, Bosnia, and Darfur.  He referenced Scripture often, focusing upon the story of Cain and Abel, and the ability brothers have to kill one another.  Totally humble, he spoke of meeting with world leaders, moderating peace talks, and addressing presidents.  He denounced racism, heavily criticized the leader of Iran, and spoke against fanatics who use religion as their excuse to propagate hatred and murder.  He reminded us that each and every person has the responsibility to help our fellow man, and as long as anyone in this world dies from hunger, we should all feel intense shame.  In the end, he left us with such simple and inspiring words-“Think higher.  Feel deeper.”

They announced Mr. Wiesel would sign books for half an hour, but with the thousands of people there, we knew it would be futile to even try.  I regretted that I wouldn’t get a copy of Night signed for my three-month-old daughter-one day to be a gift-but I understood that a man of his age who speaks so openly against those who think nothing of killing may not want to interact with the general public at a relatively unsecure location for too long.  In the end, even though I didn’t get a book signed to her, I can one day tell Emma all about the day Elie Wiesel came to Central Illinois, and that’s something to which I greatly look forward.

Again, words cannot describe how proud I am of the people who came out that night to see Mr. Wiesel.  When I think about one man who’s made such a difference in this world of ours encouraging each and every person in that room to resist the urge to stand idly by, it really fills my heart with joy. 

Learning from Mr. Wiesel was something I’ll forever cherish, and I thank him for coming to Illinois State University.  I also believe Toni Tucker of Illinois State University’s Milner Library deserves tremendous credit for bringing him to us as well.  It had to have been tremendously stressful for her, but she pulled it off fantastically.  Well done, Toni!

It has not yet been even twenty-four hours since listening to Mr. Wiesel, so my brain is still bustling with excitement.  If there’s anything you’d like to know-anything I may have omitted-please don’t hesitate to ask a question in the comments or email me at scottwilliamfoley@gmail.com.

For local newspaper coverage, follow the links:
Pantagraph
Daily Vidette

The Tamarisk Tree by Gloria Beanblossom – A Book Review

In The Tamarisk Tree, Gloria Beanblossom delivers an epic story accurately detailing the true complexities of love, religion, family, and human nature.  

We all know what these things mean on the surface, but life experience tells us there are many gritty nuances to each of these, and Beanblossom does not hesitate to dive in to the murkiness that is real life.

However, just as she shows us the darker side of these things, she also shows us the power of hope when it comes to love, religion, family, and living as a human.   Her characters are flawed, as are we all, but they also have hope, and through that hope they meet with victory, though they do suffer some losses along the way.   Beanblossom understands how to create characters that are active participants in the human race.

Beanblossom has written a book that is very easy to get lost within.  We follow an epic tale as her main characters, Abby and David, struggle to come to terms with the consequences of their past actions.   Abby and David’s story is a complicated one, and Beanblossom gives them the time they deserve, which translates to a very long book.  If you are one who enjoys settling in and joining in the lives of characters, watching them grow and meet the challenges without the author rushing things, then I believe The Tamarisk Tree is for you.

Be warned, however.  Beanblossom pulls no punches.  She is not afraid to display life as it truly occurs, and for some, this realistic depiction may be offensive.   Beanblossom reminds us of the beauties of love, religion, and family, but she doesn’t shy away from the atrocities that can occur, either.