Art, the Messenger

I discovered the video “To This Day,” based on a poem by Shane Koyczanwhen reading the blog Synapsis & Synopsis. This well-designed animation tells a clear, powerful story in an aesthetically pleasing way, while sending a strong, accessible message.

Haven’t we all dealt with bullying at one time or another in our lives? If not bullying, exactly, we certainly have all had to find and make friends, enter or leave social groups, and learn how to participate in social dynamics.

This video moved me because of the experiences I have had in my life, and for the messages I would like to send with my own work. My novel features a college girl who must learn to navigate the treacherous social situations in her sorority. Female relationships often include bullying/cyberbullying and back-stabbing while women vie for popularity, and my book incorporates these themes. I know as an artist you cannot control how your work will be viewed or the impact it will have. However, my hope is that the young women who read this book will reconsider how they treat each other. I hope they might change their views and actions, and try to boost each other up, rather than tear each other down.

Recently I picked up Tammara Webber‘s Easy at the library. While the book prominently features a love story, there were several elements of confidence and learning to stand up for oneself, emotionally and physically. The protagonist experiences near-rape within the first few pages of the book, and she spends most of the book in fear of her attacker. *Spoiler alert* She takes self defense classes and ultimately triumphs–in a final confrontation with her attacker at the end of the book, she not only fends him off, she uses her new skills to give him a bloody nose. I had no doubt that she would stand up to him in court. At the close of the book, I enjoyed the way her love story reached a happy ending, but I was more impressed by the way she had grown. 

Easy

In the pages following the story, there were discussion questions. One of them was, “Did reading Easy make you want to learn self-defense?” and my answer was a resounding YES. I absolutely felt a heightened sense of awareness of the issues women who have experienced rape face and wanted to take action to protect myself. I haven’t signed up for self defense classes yet, but I have become much more aware of the message “90 percent of self-defense involves reducing the risk of attack in the first place.”

Visual media and the written word are two powerful forms of art. The video moved me and strengthened my desire to impact the conversation on bullying among women. The book inspired me to take action and change the way I live my life. This kind of impact is what I aspire to in my own work.

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Let the Novel Begin

            I have left C. I am sorry that it did not turn out as I had hoped, but now the way is open for new things. I am taking a program through Landmark Education called the Self-Expression and Leadership Program (SELP), and I am writing a draft of my first novel.
            When I was in the Greek system in college, I saw a lot of amazing things happen. I gained some incredible experiences and friendships by being in a sorority. I also saw a lot of really negative things happen. In line with my belief that fiction can affect people, I am writing the novel about a sorority girl with the idea that women who read it will be encouraged to think about how they treat each other. I hope to inspire questions: How do I treat my sisters? How can I create change? How can we empower each other? My goal: true sisterhood.
            As a part of this project, I will be conducting interviews over the next couple of weeks to find out how other people experienced Greek life. I will be asking my interviewees to conduct their own interviews, and it is my intention that through communication, we will spread awareness.
            The seminar ends December 6, so that means I have about 3 months to write this novel. Today, character sketches. So far I have a villain, a heroine, and a victim. Tomorrow, plotting. By next week, I will be writing 3-4 pages per day. This concept scares me, but as my seminar leader told me, even if I only write half, that’s half more than I have now!