I found an essay called Toni Morrison: Writing Is a Dangerous Pursuit by Morgan Jenkins in Elle. Toni Morrison is in conversation with authors, Ta-Nehisi Coates and Sonia Sanchez. Everyone who has attempted to write a book at all knows how hard it is, but for stellar authors like these writing is about telling the truth. This adds a whole new dimension of difficulty to the writing process. Toni Morrison wrote books like Beloved and Sula during a time when black writers were just 4% of the publishing industry in the U.S.
“I knew that if I wrote—other people exploded.”
She didn’t have it easy. At that time, she could not escape the question: Could her book sell to ‘predominantly white customers’? She was the kind of writer who earned the respect she was to receive and it was not instantaneous; it took time and she insisted on it.
Writers who write from the periphery about real issues on the ground are usually suspects in their countries. This is a phenomenon repeated in all countries, including democracies. Ta-Nehisi Coates was the kind of child whose mother demanded that he write essays when he did wrong, so for him writing was always about truth-telling.
“Art can never be idle but must testify about the times in which it is created.”
Though there are naysayers about what writers do, writers initiate the dialogue needed for change. They make the small step by talking about issues on the ground and facilitate the possibility of change. In some countries these writers pay for it with their lives. In others, they earn the respect they deserve and contribute to the progress of society.
Either way, writing is a dangerous business indeed, if what is being written is the truth.