The Nigerian author Chris Abani has written a profoundly sharp and inspiring essay on writing and the human condition. If you care about either, read the piece in the "Dismissing Africa" issue of the annual journal Witness. Here's just a taste:
"This is what I know about being human—that we all desire to live without fear, or disease, or affliction, but that we all refuse to give up our crutches. James Baldwin said it better: 'I imagine one of the reasons people cling to their hates so stubbornly is because they sense, once hate is gone, they will be forced to deal with pain.'
"In making my art, and sometimes when I teach, I am like a crazed, spirit-filled, snake-handling, speaking-in-tongues, spell-casting, Babylon-chanting-down, new-age, evangelical preacher wildly kicking the crutches away from my characters, forcing them into their pain and potential transformation. Alas, or maybe not, I also kick the crutches away from my readers. And many have fled from the revival tents of my art, screaming in terror."