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The first thing that comes to mind when I think of writers of substance (read: writers who create the kind of work that can support at least 90 minutes of thoughtful discussion) is that they see problems that really bother them. Social injustice is a big one; race, gender, sexual identity, and other power dynamics crop up a lot in the writing that has that ring of importance. Unfortunately, I am one step away from being politically illiterate. I’m straight, in the racial majority, and while I’m female, I have no dramatic stories of oppression to share. There was one time someone mistakenly called me a secretary because they saw me sitting at the front desk, but that’s about it.

But I still want to write something meaningful, so I took out a sheet of paper, set the clock for five minutes, and started listing things that bother me (no matter what they were). Here’s what I came up with*:

  1. “God” being an embarrassing word to say, never mind entity to believe in. I am religious, and I am rather intelligent. Not that I’d ever have the opportunity to verbally spar with Christopher Hitchens, but if I did, it frustrates me that he’d already think less of me for believing in God. This also goes for some believers who reject clear evidence in favor of literal interpretation–they make science-embracing, faithful people have to justify one or the other aspect of their belief. It’s annoying.
  2. Public schools
  3. Busywork
  4. The fact that I kind of like “Bridezillas.” How tacky 😛
  5. Cooking meat in milk
  6. Thoughtless cruelty
  7. Rape
  8. Rape or sexual abuse victims who go on to abuse others
  9. Narcissism
  10. Empty apologies
  11. Wearing shoes in the house
  12. Trash on a table
  13. People thinking they know a country just because they’ve visited (sadly, I have been guilty of this one)
  14. Patronizing people
  15. Laziness
  16. People who ask you how to do something, especially something simple, and then say something dismissive like, “Oh, I could never do that.” Why did you ask in the first place?
  17. Making inconvenient personality traits into illnesses (apparently being shy or introverted is an illness now)
  18. Wiccans
  19. Not having enough money, even though I work a lot
  20. Serial marriages and divorces.
I feel more strongly about some than others, and some definitely make better writing fuel than others, but I was surprised to see how many things I had a strong opinion about. I’m tinkering around a bit, trying to see which ones appeal to me most to start putting some new thoughts and characters on paper.
Now that I’ve put my list out here, I’d love some company. What bothers you? Make it as trivial or deep as you like–either way, I’d love to hear your perspective.
*A brief disclaimer, of sorts: I am not posting this list with the intention of being incendiary. This list was written as a writing exercise, and is not necessarily meant to condemn any person or group. They are opinions only, and I fully appreciate they may not be shared.
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