How far should one go in writing? Should one go as far as the imagination allows on a fictional platform that’s partly safe from hurtful realities, yet vulnerable to critical attack from having gone to disturbing depths?
What are the emotional effects in diving to such depths for a writer, though it may seem as if it were no problem to create what the writer imagined … gasp-reactive content that disturbs to ridicule. These questions have been in my mind for years after an introduction to the works of Norman Mailer, upon viewing the movie adaptation of a memorable scene depicting scandalous adultery and raw emotions, as a man witnesses his mate’s blatant infidelity and attack on his humanity.
Instantly I became gasp-reactive while feeling the emotional anguish the character displayed as though it were my own. I then wondered who the writer was, and further thought what courage it actually takes to write such material regardless of its context.
Though indelibly disturbed each time I think about the scene, as a writer, I respect the guts that it took for Mailer to write what he wrote, and the artistic resolution required in taking such risks.
While brave writing can disturb, it also affords writers the freedom to explore powerful emotions in having the courage to experiment, examine, and write from imaginings that can incite at the human core.
Mailer had the personal attributes of what it takes to be a great writer – verve, fire … relentless heart and Pulitzers for his former works, attesting to his skills.
With heart, I also believe it takes a visceral type of passion to pen what might unknowingly become a brilliant work of art without reserve of criticism, as it were with such diversely distinguished writers from Nathaniel Hawthorne, to living playwright and author, Ntozake Shange, whose greatest works received initial backlash prior to wide acclaim.