The word “provoke” always makes me think of poking a crocodile or bear with a stick… just to see what happens. Blood pumping, heart thumping seconds full of movements that build a great story. There is danger in the action, a risk to limb and life. In the same moment, there is adventure, courage, and freedom.
If a writer never provokes their readers, they are either a coward or exceptionally boring. Either way, they don’t deserve to write.
So am I boring? Am I a coward? Will I brave the sleeping beast, prod it with my pen point, and face that moment of terror and freedom?
This might sound a bit grandiose or a bit melodramatic… but it’s true. If I am taking my identity as a writer seriously, I have to acknowledge that I am writing to say something. I have a voice and a message. The heart of that message is change I believe would make our lives and indeed the world a better place. So, if I’m writing for change and I never challenge the way things are, never ask the hard questions, never stir the blood and brains of my readers, how am I remaining true to my message?
This isn’t to say that I should write nothing but hell fire, brimstone, and calls to take up arms. In the midst of my wandering prose, in the middle of my poetry, within the themes and topics of my words there needs to be a core. Some passionate spark needs to be seen in my writing; something in these words needs to make you and I both uneasy, uncomfortable, and unsatisfied. Otherwise I am a coward, hiding from my voice and my message in a garden of useless letters.
So, what is your message? What is worth you provoking the sleeping bear? Or are you a coward?