(I wrote this several weeks ago and cannot remember where I got the title from or who I was quoting!)
I think a lot about the complication of processing narratives and how we all can be in the same time and place but experience so very differently.
Like… being a writer with a penchant for reflecting back precisely what I see, in the place that I am, having never left, is really tricky. Don’t tell too much, you’ll destroy trust. But at the same time, it’s very annoying to me when people gloss over the truth for the sake of blending in with the saleable boostery generic narrative. There’s no hook there. It’s gone.
This post won’t make a lot of sense, it’ll be all over the place, because this is an ever-evolving conversation in my brain.
The other night I heard a fresh new song from a local who’s about to make it big, pretty sure. The song is about this place. It’s cuttingly specific. It’s essentially 100% negative. This person has been told to change it up, dial it back… castrate it. There’s too much risk in being so real. So they tried to make it a bit more gently generic.
I hate that.
I say jump in, draw that line, take that risk, write in the most cutting way. Especially if you absolutely know what you’re saying is true to your own experience. Be achingly specific. That’s the hook, that’s the interest, that’s the uniqueness.
Look. I’ve been accused of being a community booster before. I’ll even tell you who said this to me: Andrew! I love Steinbach, I’ve chosen to live here quite intentionally, and I’m very enthusiastic about the place. But ffs, it’s far from perfect. I know this because I live right in the centre of it and am around a lot with eyes to see and ears to hear and a brain to remember I am able to use these (likely temporary) privileges to be quite aware that there’s a lot about this place that suuuuuuuuucks. Sometimes it feels downright dystopian. Yeah, I said it.
So when I heard this song that was so real and angry and accurate, it was very cathartic. To remove the facts is to steal its edge.
I can love living in Steinbach and while at the same time tell you that a song about hating this place is one of the best things I’ve heard in a long time. It makes me laugh, cry, and feel part of a community. This one. In this time and place.
Oh, you want details? You wanna hear the song? You want to know the artist? Eh, I’ll link it all when this is released to the wider world because it’s not my story to tell. Pay attention in and around Steinbach (this weekend’s festival is a good time to do that), watch this space, etc.