Phyllis Whitney said, “Good stories are not written. They are rewritten.” And Shannon Hale writes, “I’m writing a first draft and reminding myself that I’m simply shoveling sand into a box, so that later, I can build castles.” Writers are reminded all the time that no one ever sees the first draft of anything, and no one cares about the first (or second or third) draft- only the final product.
I am aware that what I write will cause someone to think, mostly feel. I write with emotion. Sometimes that emotion is uncomfortable for the reader, and it should be, because it was uncomfortable for me writing it. Mostly, I write to make myself think, which in turn makes the reader think. Yes, I want what I write to be “real” to the reader, since it is “real” to me. I also want it to be entertaining.
Each of my stories contain life examples. Many of these life stories come from the kids I’ve worked with over the years. I’m simply retelling what was shared with me in the classroom, the locker room, the hallways, the counseling office. So, what Brian, George, Brett, or Bobby (some of the characters in my books) are thinking, saying or doing, you can pretty much bet that there have been kids I’ve heard or watched doing the same thing. I think that lends a “realism” to each of my books.
As careful as I am with my writing, there are times when I’m less careful about what I say. Admitting that pains me, but it is the truth.
There are times when I say something that I think is funny and harmless, but what I say ends up hurting someone’s feelings. That hurts me as much or more than it hurt the recipient. I honestly try not to let my emotions interfere with my words, my actions, or my judgment, but I admit I am human. I make mistakes. There are times when I’ve let my emotions get the best of me. I cause friction, hurt, and fail to live up to my own expectation to lift someone up rather than push someone down. Correcting that mistake is often a humbling experience, but a necessary one nonetheless.
There are folks who read my blog who don’t share my religious beliefs, my political beliefs, my beliefs on family, rights, or freedom and responsibility. While I don’t understand their thinking or reasoning, I’m certain they don’t understand mine. Life.
This last week was a particularly tough week in a year that has been particularly tough for many.
What bothered me, actually haunts me, is that words were said that pushed and pulled people to act in such a way as to hurt others. Five people died. There was damage to a public building. Things were stolen. People got arrested. Some got fired from their jobs. Others might end up resigning in shame or anger.
But the words that were used to spur action were deliberate choices. They certainly weren’t intended to lift up. They certainly weren’t intended to create peace. The words chosen were deliberate. And those deliberate choices of words had, and will have, consequences that reach far beyond the two or three minutes it took for those words to be uttered, and the four or five hours it took for the death and destruction that occurred.
I realize people make mistakes. I realize that people act in emotion rather than in thought. I realize that, because I have done it and probably will do it in the future. Probably yet today. And again, it pains me to admit that. But I know I am human.
It saddens me when leaders urge, or at the very least, support violence. It’s wrong. If words are meant to hurt or harm others, that is wrong. There is no other way to state that. No other way to think about that.
We need to do better. We need to act better. And, our words need to be better. I am on the backside of life. But my kids and your kids have a lifetime ahead of them. We need to do better, not only for ourselves, but for them. Our words have consequences. Our actions have consequences. Consider for a moment what you are saying now, what you are thinking of doing now or in the future. Will my children, and their children, be proud of it? Will what you say and what you do, what you are saying and what you are doing, make them better people? Will what you say and what you do make this world a safer and better place to live for you? For your children? For those you love and care about? Something to think about . . .
To My Readers:
I am pleased to announce that this past December, Betrayed has won the Literary Titan Silver Book Award one month after its release. I am proud of that accomplishment.
A late-night phone call, a missing kid, a murdered family, but no one is willing to talk. A promise is made and kept, but it could mean the death of a fifteen-year-old boy. Seeing is not believing. No one can be trusted, and the hunters become the hunted.
"I was on the edge of my seat and holding my breath as I waited for these characters to get through the latest scrape." @MyBookishBliss
"The story whilst it’s a hunt for a missing friend also shines a light on teens who are struggling to find their place in the world." @MachinSharronm1
"Joseph Lewis has tactfully dealt with some difficult themes, and still managed to squeeze a nice amount of action and mystery into this novel." @caathycastling
"Excellent pacing, intriguing characters, and an action-packed plot line. Don't miss this one!" @jessicaxbelmont
"Well written and with real heart and honesty this is a beautiful and moving story about survival and kinship." @ramblingmads
"An action-packed thriller that grabbed my attention from the start. ... I thoroughly enjoyed the pace of this book and getting to know all the characters." @ShazzieRimmel
Detectives Jamie Graff, Pat O’Connor and Paul Eiselmann race to find the source of the drugs, shut down the ring, and find Fuentes before he kills anyone else, especially George or members of his family. https://www.amazon.com/dp/B07CKF7696 You can watch the book trailer at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xd3YdNv_ayQ
Caught in a Web is now available in Audio format. You can find it at: https://www.beaconaudiobooks.com/audiobookreleases/high-school-drug-rings-gangs-and-revenge-are-all-encompassing-in-caught-in-a-web-by-joseph-lewis
Photo Courtesy of Brett Jordan and Unsplash