Saving the world one book at a time

I admit it. I love to write about evil doing.
Tormentors bursting with vicious acts (but their victims do get revenge). Monstrous villains carrying out carnage with a side dish of torture.  People giving into their most animalistic desires to abandon their moral code. It’s so baaaaad – but it feels so fun to write – right?

I rub my hands together in glee and write, the keyboard jolting as my fingers fly. Then cheer as the bad guy gets it good. The protagonist, who suffers at their hands, rises strong to defeat them yet empathizes with their enemy. Yeah! Stick it to em’.  No need for therapy here.

My husband asks “just how the heck did you come up with that stuff?” A colleague of his once asked him, after reading my debut novel, A Human Element, “So…what’s wrong with your wife?”

Chick lit ain’t for me.
In sitting in on a writing session led by my former editor Kathryn Craft, I thought I chose a fairly tame piece to read. Ahem….I soon realized not so after the silence and blank stares that followed. Don’t get me wrong, I love to read beautiful pieces and get swept up in pure emotion of the heart. Heck, I cry every time I stop and read Hallmark cards in the grocery store. Every damn time. (By the way, thanks for having me back Kathryn!)

Jean-Leon_Gerome_Pollice_Verso

Photo from Creative Commons

But seriously, the world needs writers like us.
Just think, if everyone had books and HBO 2,000 years ago people would have gotten their angst out in nicer ways. We would never have had mighty wars or gladiators carrying out bloody duels of pain and misery. Limbs being torn off. Beasts clawing at you. Chariots stomping over people.

Ahhhhh. Gladiator. Favorite movie of all time. Ooh, when that female gladiator gets sliced in half in the arena. Love it!

Love it because it’s not real.
Like our writing. But we can FEEL its realness. And that’s what we want to achieve, right? Heck, the whole Roman Empire might never have forged ahead to rule the world if everyone had a library. The Emperor would have stopped after the First Punic War, sat down to read and said “Them Carthaginians ain’t such a bad lot. That’s enough for conquest for me. Gee, am I glad I got that out of my system. Now let me finish this Stephen King.”

Recently at the Pompeii exhibit in Philadelphia, my favorite part was the gladiator room. Oh, they had helmets, torture devices, and armor galore. I spent much time peering at the weapons hoping to see a glint of rusty blood still burned in the metal. I said to my husband, “Think of all the flesh these hacked into!” He just shook his head.

Most people didn’t have a creative outlet in ancient times for their darkness inside (of course they had no air conditioning either so the heat probably added to their pissed-off-ness).

Now we can safely do all that messy, nasty stuff on paper, rather than a slave’s flesh or the farmer down the road who didn’t pay his taxes. We can now witness evil at play in a world of order without hurting anyone.

We writers are saving the world, one book at a time. One book written and read to make a person feel sad, angry, tense, enraged, in love, content, at peace.  An outlet for all great emotions. No need to act on our emotions when we can feel them so intensely with words on the page drawing us in to pain and beauty and other worlds.

I wanted to name my son Maximus from Gladiator (yeah, that got nixed).

I can hear the cries now. Maximus! Maximus!
The general who became a slave.
The slave who became a gladiator.
The gladiator who defied an emperor.  

Awesome stuff! I mean look at Russell Crowe in that role. All that raw feeling.  Rage and primitive frenzy. What power. Plunging your sword into flesh, WOW. Just imagine doing that. Wouldn’t that make you feel better at times? We can do it, in our writing.

Bottom line: Writing is cathartic. Writing gives us power to reveal our inner most desires and rages through a carefully crafted veil of characters. Writing can bring out the animal in us and tame it at times with beauty and softness. And there’s more animal in book 2 in my Element Trilogy, A Hidden Element, out August 28th. Heh heh heh.

Final words:
Maximus: Do you find it difficult to do your duty?
Cicero: Sometimes I do what I want to do. The rest of the time, I do what I have to.

I am trying to achieve the “sometimes I do what I want to do” side in my world as a writer.

So what do you enjoy writing or reading that fuels your blood? (or blood lust).


7 thoughts on “Saving the world one book at a time

  • Katherine

    I don’t feel cathartized when I write (is that a word? It is now). I write to learn. For me, that’s the joy of writing. it doesn’t make me less dark. At all. Period.

  • Thomas B. Sawyer

    Nice one, Donna! In a way, I guess we’re all writing fantasy. I mean — in real life, how often are the bad guys ever caught, and made to pay for what they’ve done?

    • Donna Galanti Post author

      Tom, not as often as we’d like! But I did have the distinct satisfaction of waving and beeping as I cruised by a dangerous speeder the other day who’d been pulled over by a cop (he didn’t stop for a school bus either!). That old saying “where’s a cop when you need one?” was realized!

    • Donna Galanti Post author

      Joseph, revenge is a wonderfully fun thing to write about…especially when you are making it up. Great part about writing revenge is you can say all those things in real life you never would dare – and get a chance for great comeback lines when in real-life we often think of great retorts after the fact. 🙂

  • Norb Vonnegut

    Dialogue! I like snappy banter, back and forth. The chatter can be full of sexual innuendo or end with a big-time putdown. Insults are always great. But I really don’t care what the intention is so long as the dialogue is smart and sassy and really quick–meaning no three-sentence sermons. The blood lust that follows is so much better… 🙂

    • Donna Galanti Post author

      Norb, snappy and sassy! Luv it. Now those will stick in my mind when writing to ratchet up the tense blood-lust scenes. Thanks!

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