The Reluctant Writer: Something Else to do When I Should Be Writing

February 4, 2009

writing for a prejudiced audience

Filed under: Columbia,SC Arts,Uncategorized,writing — cynthiaboiter @ 01:17

I had the opportunity recently to write an article for one of The State Newspaper’s magazines on local arts couples and  how they balance their relationships with the demands of their arts.  (You can find the story at or by clicking Zen and the Art of Relationship Management at right.)

The piece was a joy to write.  Some of the folks featured were already friends; others I knew of, but got to know better; and others I now feel will be friends for life.  Given how poorly local freelance pays, a writer can’t ask for more than that — friends.   I was  proud to highlight my friend Simone Cuttino, for example, and how she balances her demanding life as a ballet mistress and teacher with the responsibilities of parenting 4 children — including a pair of infant twins.  She and Walter are doing an exceptional job — especially given the contributions they both make to the local Columbia arts scenes. 

 I was also pleased to get to know Mana and Steve Hewitt better.  Mana and Steve are both visual artists and  fixtures in the arts community.  We actually went to college at USC together, but didn’t know one another then.  Mana does amazing copper creations and paintings of tattoos, and so much more.  Her piece on the silenced majority stays in your head for days.

But probably the most exciting and satisfying section for me to write was the one about Christian Thee and Bruce Bahr.  Christian and Bruce are a beautiful gay couple who have been together longer than most of the hetero couples I know.  Christian is famous for his murals and tromp l’oeile paintings and Bruce, ever the backer of his beloved, is a former costume designer who is currently heading up the capital campaign to move Columbia’s only indie film theatre to a new and expanded home on Main Street.  While anyone would find them fascinating, I readily admit to realizing a distinct pleasure in the small part I was taking to highlight the two men as an admirably successful non-heteronormative couple. 

Unfortunately, not all my readers agreed with me.  I hear through the grapevine that there were complaints from disgruntled readers who argued that The State and its publications are “family” reading.  Really?  How many murders, rapes and assaults do we read about on a daily basis in our local newspaper, and besides that, haven’t Mr. Thee and Mr. Bahr been a family for almost three decades now?  There were other complaints — seven of them, to date — but I won’t do them the service of repeating them here.

I know I shouldn’t be surprised.  We need look no further than the lack of diversity in our state government to see the pitifully short social distance we have progressed in our state.  No women, few blacks, and certainly no gays (at least not “out” gays and you all know who I’m looking at.)  But it’s sad all the same. 

The flip side however is the way my editor, Kristine Hartvigsen, responded.  She answered all the complaints personally and professionally, when she could have thrown me to the wolves.  This reminds me that while there were seven complaints — there were ONLY seven complaints.  There could have been many more.   So while there may be a prejudicial element to any audience, it’s important to remember that when we write for them we are acknowledging they are there.  Better to ignore them –and maybe they’ll eventually disappear.


1 Comment »

  1. Hi Cindi
    Great blog. Great writing. You are not a lemming! Blogs aren’t always written by “self-important people” that “think the world is interested”. At least, that’s my impression. I’ve never thought of myself in those terms. I write for myself, to remember, to document my art and track the intuitive trends that seep out in stitch, and also to share. At first, I wrote without anyone knowing I was blogging. This evolved into a way to communicate with my family. Finally, others started reading. It was a natural progression but the initial aim is still the same. I blog for myself. It doesn’t matter if anyone else reads or cares.

    I heard someone on NPR say that blogging was a new literary form. Because blogs are public, they are more than a personal diary. Because blogs are self published on the Internet, they really aren’t like any other form of writing. If you keep this up, you will find your own unique reasons for blogging….like checking back on yourself a year later just to see what you had been thinking and where your life’s path has taken you!

    I look forward to looking back….on your new blog too!
    PS I loved the article in the Lake Murray magazine!

    Comment by Susan Lenz — February 9, 2009 @ 18:37

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