To vote, or not to vote…that is your decision

I used to think that not voting was a valid form of political protest, but I now understand that it is only the first step.

man-putting-ballot-in-a-box-during-elections-in-canada

If you choose not to vote, I respect that. But I challenge you that it accomplishes nothing.

If you choose not to vote as a protest, I presume that you want to change the system in some way. And yet, you have offered no alternative.

The election will go on whether you vote or not. The raccoon that raids my recycling bins won’t vote either.

When people protest through marches, sit-ins or hunger strikes, they make themselves visible. When you don’t vote, you remain largely invisible. So if you’re not going to vote—a right I voted to defend, in some ways—then do something.

Hold a “we didn’t vote” rally. Gather other non-voters and raise your voices in protest. Offer your own platform; suggest an alternative to the current electoral system.

If your idea is viable, you might gain support from voters. You might actually create the change you seek.

But if you simply do not vote, then you are not only invisible to the rest of us, but you remain complicit in the system you despise.

Parliament Hill

Not for nothing – REQUEST FOR HELP

ssnolan3

How do you write about nothing?

I know how to not write. In fact, I was very good at that in the past, but gratefully not writing is no longer much of an option for me.

I’m not talking about not writing, however. Instead, I am talking about writing scenes where superficially nothing happens, where a character walks through the mundane actions of life. What they are doing is unimportant to them, a robotic response to an overwhelming thought or scenario. There is an astronomic exchange of information and yet no words are spoken.

In a novel or short story, you can have an inner dialogue, revealing the character’s thoughts, but in a film, you have only silence. Sure, there’s always the trusty voiceover, but I personally think that unless the character is recalling a past statement, voiceovers are a crutch. And a voiceover weakens a scene when you compare it with silence.

Think of the last time you were faced with silence in response to something you said or did. Think of the dis-ease (yes, that’s where “disease” comes from) you experienced as you tried to figure out what the other party was thinking. In many of those situations, I bet that shouting would have been preferable to silence.

In an improv class I took—I am sorry that this is my version of “This one time, in band camp…”—we were doing a status exercise wherein one character would try to take status away from the other one, proving themselves superior through statement or action. While many student pairs would do their best to out-pompous, out-preen or out-bravado each other, I took a different tack. I went completely silent.

No matter what my partner said or did, I faced him stoically or indifferently, deigning to give him the merest glance on occasion while going about my activities. And the louder or larger he got, the less I minded or acknowledged him. The more he talked, the weaker he appeared.

Silence is powerful. And even if the silence is due to idiocy, it comes across as thoughtfulness.

Think of scenes in movies where a character has chosen to deal with a problem by thinking about it. With a good actor, you can see all the thoughts as they play out in his or her mind. The body, the face, the eyes tell you all you need to know about the emotional swells washing through the actor. A single word breaks that tension and weakens the moment. As a storyteller, why would you ever give that up?

Which brings me back to my original question: How do you write nothing?

Perhaps I am delving too far into the domains of the director and actor, but there has to be a way to ensure both those artists know what you, the writer, intend. But I’ll be damned if I know how.

So, I open the question to you, my fellow artists.

What do you do, what have you learned, what have you seen that tells you how to write nothing and yet convey a world of thought and feeling?

Please share your thoughts here as I can’t be the only one who wants to know.

Null and void

The sounds of the city

Echo through my brain,

Filling the void with

Impulses that dissipate

As suddenly as formed.

Photonic reflections

Bombard my eyes and

Yet I see nothing

As I stare into

The darkening distance.

As empty as the bookshelves

That lie to either side,

My mind is a canvas,

Devoid of tint or brushstroke,

The words of yesterday

Replaced by so much silence.

The mind has wandered,

I know not where,

To seek adventure

In environs yet new,

To channel its destiny

In fields not yet furrowed,

Leaving only a husk of humanity,

A shed skin, abandoned shell,

To signal its former home

In the expanding universe.

I cannot know

If it will return,

But remain a sentinel

On constant watch ‘til death.

(Image is property of owner and is used here without permission. I don’t recall why.)