Intersections – Je Suis Writer

Posted by January 14, 2015
Nicki Salcedo

Nicki Salcedo

By Nicki Salcedo

I am a writer. I write fiction. But I’m not a journalist. I don’t do satire.

Once a week, I write down my observations of the world. These personal essays are a challenge for me. Fiction is easy. The truth is hard.

I document the intersections where ideas and people meet. I’m simple. I live in a dark corner of Georgia. I write about cats and coffee shops. Even when contemplating the mundane, my words have power. All words do.

Words can kill. Words can get you killed.

I write with two objectives: be gracious and tell the truth. Some writers use their words and ideas to alienate and stir controversy. Some writers have no intention of being kind or careful with their words.

I, too, have caused irritation with my words. I’ve been called a racist, a hand-wringing anti-feminist, and a stay-at-home-mom. The strange thing about being called a stay-at-home-mom is that the comment was meant as an insult, and I’m not a stay-at-home-mom. You can’t trust your detractors. They will interpret my words the way they want, no matter my intentions..

I don’t let the comments silence me. I don’t get angry when I see opinions that differ from my own. The purpose of writing is to start a conversation, not create uniform agreement. I take issue with satire that goes too far. I question satire that is meant to shock and insult. I wonder what thoughtful conversation might come out of it.

I respect the creative process. I believe in the freedom of speech. I don’t want anyone to be censored. I don’t want anyone to die.

This week a dozen people died in France and two thousand died in Nigeria. What is freedom? What is art? What is terror? I write to find answers.

Here is the terrible reality. All words are dangerous. If you write satire or stir controversy, if you write humor or memoir, if you tell lies for the sake of gaining readers or tell the truth for the sake of losing them. No matter what you write, you will challenge someone’s belief system. You will hurt feelings. You will evoke rage.

I believe everyone should write. Write poetry, a letter to your grandmother, a compliment to the staff at the coffee shop. Write words. Get a pen. Bloody the paper. When you write you become a better reader.

I am careful when I write, but I won’t censor myself. I’m not looking for agreement, but intersections. I’d love to see an editorial from someone on why the line in the coffee shop should curve the other way. I like to see different points of view.

I am not French. I am not Nigerian. I mourn loss of life whenever I read the news. I avoid the news because it is selective. I don’t believe it all to be true. It feeds my sadness and disappointment. Writing gives me joy and hope.

I am a writer. Je suis writer. I write about things close to me. That grave east of Stone Mountain. The lush green grass my backyard from thirty years ago. I think about things far away. An office building containing a massacre. Bloody pens on the floor. I think about stories that are never told. Missing women and children. Bodies destroyed by fire.

I should be afraid to write. I’m not. Je suis writer. I realize I’m not afraid of dark alleys. I’m not afraid of anything. Especially words.

Nicki Salcedo is a Decatur resident and Atlanta native. She is a novelist, blogger, and a working mom. Her column, Intersections, runs every Wednesday morning.


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  • Maggie Worth

    Here is the other terrible reality. All silence is dangerous. Every word we’re given and refuse to write robs the person who needed to read it. Every opinion we don’t voice makes someone who shares it feel more alone. Every outcry we don’t raise leaves someone undefended. Every mistake we don’t make leaves someone more fearful of making his or her own. Every thought we don’t share puts distance between us and the people who need us. Every joy and pain and memory we dismiss as too insignificant to mention belittles the gift of life. Write, speak, share, risk. Even when you can’t.

    • Nicki Salcedo

      Maggie. You are so right. I heard this quote this week and thought of you: “History will have to record
      that the greatest tragedy of this period of social transition was not
      the strident clamor of the bad people, but the appalling silence of the
      good people.” – Martin Luther King, Jr. [Somewhere between the clamor of the bad people and appalling silence of the good people, I hope there are great people. That’s from me. You can quote me on that.] Thanks for reading and sharing your comments.

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