Life versus Writing

You may know these adages.

  • It’s what you do, not what you say.
  • Nothing ventured, nothing gained.
  • Seek and ye shall find.
  • Actions speak louder than words.
  • Practice makes perfect.
  • A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.
  • A thing begun is half done.
  • Beggars can’t be choosers.
  • Better to wear out than to rust out.

Fiction writers have a similar one.

  • Show, don’t tell.

It means the author should show the character doing things, and show his expressions and body movements when he reacts. The intent is to make the reader figure out what the character is thinking and feeling.

  • Telling: Mike is disappointed.
  • Showing: Mike frowned and his shoulders sank.

The first group of adages are the same. They’re about doing, not about talking about doing. It’s the action that counts. Missouri is the Show Me state. “Don’t tell me the motor works,” they might say. “Start it up.”

A lot of what we’re seeing in the news these days is “telling.”

  • Black Lives Matter.
  • Taxes favor the rich.
  • Deserving immigrants can’t get into the country fast enough.

These complaints are legitimate, but they’re all telling. They tell us there is a problem.

Well, duh, I know that. My next door neighbor knows that. Most everyone up and down the street knows these are problems.

But just saying “stop discriminating” doesn’t solve the problem. It states what the world will look like after the problem has been solved, but it’s not the solution. It’s the result of the solution.

There may be many ways to solve some problems. Others may have only one solution that will work.

So, what is a solution that works?

There’s only one way to know: Do it.

  • Show me a black life that now matters and why.
  • Show me the changed tax structure that is more equitable.
  • Show me what changed that makes immigration better.

Then, I’m interested in what you’ve got. Then, you’ll get my attention.

Show me, don’t tell me.

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