I, The Ant, Raise My Fist to the Sky

Emma_Jane_Austen_book_cover            Vs.                   crime_and_punishment_by_fyodor_dostoevsky

Who determines what’s worth writing about? Who decides what’s worth reading? If our poems, stories, and blogs are supposed to be a reflection of our own experiences, can some topics or episodes be considered more “pertinent” than others?

After all, the ant in the grass lives his short, limited life with just as much zeal as his human counterparts.

To illustrate my point (and give a shout out to all of my fellow writers who loves metaphors), let’s go back a couple of weeks to my Special Education students. While the rest of the school was plowing through mid-terms, our students were allowed a class period or two to play in the gym.

Oh, it was wonderful. They crowded around one of the elderly coaches, demanding a couple of basketballs, and began running around the gym at once. While the more focused students eventually organized themselves into teams or individual ball shooting, one boy just continued to run around the room in glee.

Since he’s prone to “episodes,” the head teacher turned to me with a good-natured, “At least he can get all of his energy out.”

Another boy, who struggles with reading, continually begged us to look as he made 3-pointer after 3-pointer.

The girls, one of which can’t keep a concept in her head for more than fifteen seconds, were teaching some of the lower-functioning boys how to dance.

And my PERSONAL FAVORITE: the skinny boy in the electric wheelchair, who powers the chair in, around, and through all of the students, even though he cannot run and play with the rest of them, until it began to flash that it’s losing power. It was his version of having fun.

As I’m sitting there, watching the teachers playing and laughing, with a big, stupid grin on my face, I realize “These kids are ALIVE.” People might look down on them or pity them because of the disabilities, but those kids had their own inkling of how beautiful and uproariously fun life can. And it is just as valid as the rest of ours.

It is the same with what we read and write, I guess. While I’m reading Jane Austen (talk about plowing through something) and one dinner party takes up three chapters, can I possibly claim that it holds as “important” a subject matter as Dostoevsky’s philosophically-motivated double murders?

Yeah, I’m the first one to say that subject matter is one’s personal opinion. Even if we don’t like what others may write about, we must still RESPECT THEIR VERSION OF LIFE. When I’m writing, I want people to like what I write, but even if they don’t, I respect my own version of life and what I choose to write about.

What about you? Where do you draw the line between writing for yourself and writing for others?

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