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Agents of Thought

As an independent scribe, it is my responsibility to interpret and write about the human condition as it is presented, to express what I see and share how I feel about other beings on this planet. I have never been published. I have no track record of success or credentials that would impress a horse fly. Frankly put, I don’t need them.

I don’t need steroids for my ego. I don’t have a book. I don’t have a group of sycophants or corporate admirers. I don’t have squat.

All I have is my ability to be honest and creative. That’s not to say these accomplishments are not valid or important, they simply remain as bucket-list goals for some distant rainy day. In fact, I’m quite happy for any writers who have successfully managed to climb that steep mountain. Bravo, I say… Bravo!

As a writer, my opinions tend to be overwhelming, not so much for an audience, but more for the writer directly. My words bleed from the heart, ideas and whims that seek entry into the conscience. They bleed from the fingertips, a gentle balance of firepower and explosive candy. I strike the keys with confidence, each blow a distinct reflection of my passion, an exclamation point for every mundane detail.

A writer’s world can be a very lonely place, but as we yearn to be heard by others, to be understood by those within our tribe, it is a place I am content to exist.

I am alone on my island, surrounded by a vast sea of crashing memories, a world of predictions and plausible realities pulsating at the brim. I don’t need visitors. I don’t need help with my language… and I certainly don’t need editors pulling on the strings of my soul. What I write is what I feel – word for bloody word, ashes to ashes, dust to dust.

By virtue of remaining independent, I am at peace with the universe. Reason and logic are my fire, poetry and prose are my weapons of choice. I am one with the word freedom. Writing is an expression of intellect, a prism in which we can bend the photons of light into unique chapters of thought. It is a form of communication that helps us to speculate, helps us to heal and unite in times of disorder, to divide and conquer when the odds are against us.

These are our words, for better or worse. We must use them wisely. Our words must have gravity, our messages must serve to make a difference.

A good writer should always be prepared to defend his or her statements, to be accountable for their words or positions. As an individual, I will never compromise my integrity to satisfy an audience. I will never present something phony or contrived simply to fit in. That’s not to say I’m against writing fluff… everything has its time and place… but when the world demands action, we need to be ready.

Perhaps the worst possible fate for any writer, a death sentence for the heart, is to inspire indifference.

Simple fact, readers will either agree or disagree with your statements. They will either digest your soul and accept you, or they will strike a match and watch you burn. It is important to remember that your words are inspiring thought, igniting the necessary chemical reactions in the brain which lead to change. Perhaps the worst possible fate for any writer, a death sentence for the heart, is to inspire indifference. Articles that remain neglected or unread are a plague for the confidence, a bitter taste of medicine difficult to swallow.

As writers, we are agents of thought. We have unique properties that give us imperceptible power. We have the ability to change hearts and minds, to influence those who remain unconvinced. It is an acre of property we must protect and maintain. We must feed and nourish the mind by reading and learning, always enforcing our position with facts, figures, and otherwise. It is here on this intellectual island, this lonely place where we postulate the universe, where worlds are created and destroyed, where the pulse of humanity rests in our very fingertips.

I may not have the publishing credentials or distinguished business acumen of my peers, but I am no less of a writer then the next guy on the train. I am an accomplished human being. I have a God-given right to express my views as I see fit. No one will ever program or force me to express something against my will. This is freedom. It is up to me whether I come across as a genius or a raging fool. Either way, I am a writer. I wear my heart on my sleeve, and like many others, I have moments of brilliance mixed with moments of shit. I have driven people away, and I have earned people’s respect… but in no uncertain terms have I ever been fake.

With that, I wish you all well. I write this to inspire, not to attract attention, or to portray myself as an egocentric introvert.

I simply share it because I feel comfortable with my hammer and chisel. It is the natural order of things, to improve upon our statements and understanding of the world at large. I do this through writing. Always write what your heart demands, not what you think others want to hear. Write what your instincts tell you are true and accurate. We all have a different story to tell, so tell it without shame and without a mask. Your soul will thank you for it…

Aaron Towle
Aaron Towlehttp://www.repdigest.com/
Aaron Towle is a Multimedia Artist living in Green Cove Springs, FL. He proudly served in the military as a journalist and now works as a developer in the Defense Contracting Industry. He is passionate about art, literature, and photography and looks to continue building his credentials as a professional writer. He currently produces an online publication called Reprehensible Digest, which explores the subtle dynamics between art and literature.

21 COMMENTS

  1. Aaron, this piece is excellent and a remarkable example of what it is like to write from the heart. I find that as writers, we have an inextricable connection to our emotions, surroundings, and soul that enables us to take all those moments and create our story with words. You’ve done such an impressionable job with it here, that it resonates on such a deep level.

    Thank you for taking out your hammer and chisel and creating this beautiful piece of art for us. It is one that will remain in my heart for sure.

    • I appreciate your kind words Laura. As I’ve explained to Dennis and a few of the others, I have a few loose screws in my brain that need to be tightened on occasion. Writing is my way of making sense of the world. I have a decent career and much to be grateful for, but when I escape into my writing, I am in a completely different place. Sometimes this can be a good thing, other times it can get me into trouble. Being honest with myself is the only tool that I can really count on as a writer, so I may as well go where the river takes me…

  2. WoW; one truly humbling human, out to share his passion to give voice to his thoughts, without compunction, with no remorse, without any expectation of recognition or reward! A gifted writer like you, Dear Aaron, will always have a sacred place reserved for you in my daily schedule, so I could more freely partake of your wisdom. Thank You!

    With Warm Regards, and a Prayer for All
    BM

    • Thank you Bharat, very nice words you have shared here. I can only write what I feel… anything less is just noise. I’m not as gifted or wise as you might suggest, I just try to be honest whenever the moment demands. All of us have special ways of communicating, and sometimes we have to say things that are not pleasant in order to get to a better place. Some obstacles are invisible, they reside within, and only by placing them front and center can we go around them. For me, it is my insecurity as a writer. It is something personal that periodically overwhelms me, an unfulfilled destiny… Once I let those little demons out of my grip, once I express my frustration in words, I feel much better at the end of the day. Wishing you a peaceful and productive week ahead my friend, kindest blessings…

  3. Thank you for this. While it’s taken me years to muster a deep sense of safety, to trust my genuine voice, I, too, write from my heart and soul, Aaron. I found publishing my first two books to be incredibly humbling experiences for my ego that thought I’d sell tons of books, make money, and have long lines of people waiting to meet me at book events. I haven’t and I didn’t. I self-published and have boxes of these two books in my office. I still believe in the value-added content inside of both of them. And I found a way to detach from those ego yearning results and free myself to write, to be an emancipated person who belongs to herself. I write because I love to write and I simply must. For me writing enlivens me like eating or breathing. I believe this is the essence of what you were communicating-that you must feel free to be yourself when you write.

    • Absolutely Laura, and I truly am happy for those who have achieved a publishing credit. I suppose I neglected to say that I’m in no hurry to endure that challenging process. It’s not that I fear failure, or the perception of failure, but I don’t want to invest in something only to give it away for free. In that sense, I’m just as well posting my articles directly online. Frankly, I haven’t earned a penny for any writing I’ve done since I departed the military in 2002. It’s kind of sad because this is what I should be doing for a living… it just never happened that way. The fact is, it’s so hard to sell books, to be discovered, to have an agent and receive the same opportunities as many who came before us. It’s a different time, and I don’t honestly know if publishing is relevant anymore, not unless you have golden connections in the right place. That’s not to say it isn’t important, or that the accomplishment is not worth the effort. I don’t want anyone to mistake what I’m trying to express – I simply have mixed feelings at this point in my life. At 44, I’m pretty much fixed in my ways. I’m great at expressing what I feel, but I have no idea what my purpose is as a writer. It’s a head-scratcher, but I suppose we’re all in the same boat together. Big sigh… Anyway, thank you so much for your kind thoughts, I always appreciate and value your opinion. Best wishes and stay safe my friend…

  4. Aaron, i love every single word written here. “ intellectual island”. Like this.
    You are writing truth… simple as that. You are a writer.. ! I am as you … simply writing from my heart… poetry is big.. but there’s always some moral punch in my words.. or a bold provoking thought. The creative flow just spills.. it bugs me that many refuse to read thinking poetry is “ fluffy”. Or after reading a piece of art from my heart is often referred to as sure.. “nice poem”
    But I’ve gotten better at not thinking about it and just keep going. I’d rather spend time in my “ intellectual Island”. Thanks to you I now have a title for my favorite spot! So thank you my friend. It was a great support and inspiring article to read! I appreciate you! Paula.

    • Wow Paula, I’m so happy to hear what you’re saying. To be honest, I have always been very insecure about sharing prose. So many instances where I’ve shared from within, only to remove the ideas and save them for a rainy day. Most people don’t want to bother with prose. They don’t understand the alchemy of personal expression. As you know, poetry is often swept aside as nonsense… a bit of fluff… but there is so much elegance speaking from that haunted quilt. What we stitch together in the abstract is simply a deep reflection of the challenges we face as human beings. Sometimes we just can’t capture everything in cold, hard facts. We need to be flexible, romantic, dangerous when the impulse demands our time. I’ve learned so much more about myself as a writer simply by exercising prose… And you’re an excellent writer too, so never surrender to naysayers or self-doubt. Your work is important. Prose will give you a distinct advantage as you grow in your craft – a little more punch and dramatic effect for the audience. This intellectual island will always be your home. It is where your soul exists in its essence, a safe place where your words will give birth to change. Defend this place always and feel comfortable in your own creative skin… Kindest blessings and peaceful writing my friend, you will do just fine…

  5. Aaron, there was a period about 10 or 11 years ago in which I was writing daily, mostly political stuff, the nature of which is immaterial. My abiding sense of what I was writing then is that it was empirical, logical, rational, objective. Everyone else’s sense of what I was writing then is that it was angry. I still don’t agree. But given the turmoil in my life at the time, I have to at least entertain the possibility.

    Jeff Ikler sensed defensiveness in your writing. I detect anger. I immediately thought of this: “I don’t need to fight/To prove I’m right/I don’t need to be forgiven.” (The Who, “Baby O’Riley”) Defensiveness and anger are acceptable, understandable, human. That’s why God gave us the ability to write. It’s why Dennis has given us this forum in which to publish. It’s why Henry Miller wrote this, which I know I’ve shared with you before:

    “If now and then we encounter pages that explode, pages that wound and sear, that wring groans and tears and curses, know that they come from a man with his back up, a man whose only defenses left are his words and his words are always stronger than the lying, crushing weight of the world, stronger than all the racks and wheels which the cowardly invent to crush out the miracle of personality.”

    I’m as susceptible to having my back up as anyone. When I’m able to recognize that about myself, I try — I don’t always succeed — to bear William Faulkner’s advice on editing in mind: “You have to be ready to kill your darlings.” That means to me that (1) something I’ve written may not serve my intentions for the piece I’m writing, even if I love it; and (2) it may push away the very people I hope to attract.

    I sincerely admire your honesty, my friend, as I admire your courage in getting this off your chest. I hope things look up soon. And if there’s anything I can do to help you over this rough patch, I’m terrible at hiding.

    Keep the faith.

    • Mark O’Brien, sometimes I am convinced we are cut from the same cloth. If not, a very similar cloth… For the most part, I want others to succeed in their daily endeavors, to approach their pursuits of happiness with integrity and truth. Each writer has a gift, and when that gift becomes clouded, their message gets lost in the ether. The arrow no longer finds its mark in the fog. It’s happens to the best of us… Occasionally I have to do this sort of thing, to purge my system and express my disdain for certain things. My words are always cloaked in a productive shield, but this truly is a “me” statement. It helps me to reset my priorities as a writer. It is not to chastise others or make them feel guilty for their success. Quite the opposite. It is simply a way of unblocking an artery, to clear my mind of debris. In the process, as I sweep my arm across the cluttered desk, unsettling truths and realities may be exposed (especially for other writers). That is by design. Although I may piss a few off in the process, I’m actually trying to help, to remind them of the very same power they have in their own little fingers. As stated: You have to be ready to kill your darlings… True! But if you don’t wish to kill them, at least splash some ice water in their faces. That’ll get their attention. I’m always willing to write what is necessary, at times uncomfortable, but I would much rather focus on being positive. Either way, I let the beast in my chest navigate. It all comes from there… Hope you and your family are safe during this Covid crisis. I appreciate your kind offer, but your words alone help tremendously. An open mind is the only medicine I really need. Best wishes my friend, stay blessed!

  6. Hi Aaron,
    I hope all is better in your world! This is an amazing piece, and it is what I refer to as ”platinum-style” authentic. Your passionate voice comes through loud and clear in this captivating article. Although I was traditionally published, I could not agree with you more. There are many beautiful and talented writers who have not been. Nowadays anyone can be published, and it was not until I entered the world of writing that I learned that many of these NYT bestsellers have a co-writer, a ghost writer. I believe many people are unaware of that. Some of us are fine if they give attribution, but the ghostwriter often receives Can-Ching rather than their name next to the author. I have had a few people approach me to help them write because they cannot afford ghostwriters. I told them to practice and use their own voice through the written word.

    Keep writing as you will. Your prose is exquisite. Thank you again!💖

      • Hi Jeff,

        Thank you! Years ago, I was in a seminar, and the people leading it, talked about how you can have someone else write your blogs. I raised my hand and asked how that could be authentic. The leaders looked at me as if I had two heads and said, ”Do you think people like Oprah writes her articles?” I had never really thought about it. To this day, I can still be a bit naive (lol).💖

        • Well, if you’re naive, I’m standing right new to you. I never would have thought “Authentic Oprah” wouldn’t write her own articles, but now that I think about it, I guess it’s quite possible / likely. I’m crushed! (Just kidding.)

    • Thank you Darlene, and I was not aware of the ghost writer phenomenon, it really gives me a little more to consider… Just to be clear, this article was not about any one specific individual. I am always happy and thrilled to see other writers get published. I could easily self-publish my works, but the timing isn’t right. Also, a common trait among established writers, once they become published, their messages are casually replaced with the product itself. They forget the importance of their message in lieu of the mighty sales figure. I understand the marketing and business aspect, it is very important for a writer to sell units, but their passion can easily get lost in the steam of success. Worse, they hang their hopes on the idea of selling, only to discover their compass is no longer functional. They lose their passion if they don’t succeed… I’m going down a rabbit hole here, but the point is that we are writers and we must always have the swords drawn and ready. The sooner we become complacent, the sooner we replace our passion with convenient behaviors, our swords no longer cut with efficiency. Okay, enough rambling on that… you have an outstanding and blessed day my friend. Always a pleasure to hear from you…

  7. Hi, Aaron.

    I made my living playing music for a while, still occasionally sing for my supper. More than one club owner told me “If you would just play more popular stuff, you know, The Eagles, stuff like that, I could hire you more.”

    Nothing against the Eagles, but my playing (and I guess my teaching, my sailing, my writing) is my connection to possibility rather than to popularity.

    A friend asked me about prayer, and I told her I pray every day, though there’s no address on the envelope. Creation is a release, a giving out and giving back, and for me, an action of gratitude.

    Be good. And well.
    Mac

    • Thank you for the kind words Mac. In many ways, our messages are quite similar. You play what you play, I write what I write… for better or worse. The Eagles already exist, that shouldn’t mean that Mac Bogert doesn’t exist in the same universe. My articles may not always be positive or mainstream, but that doesn’t mean God is not on my side, in my heart. I would never write something that intentionally hurts other people, at least I try not to. However, there may be facts, figures or realities that simply don’t resonate with all readers. I can accept this. In fact, I don’t want a cult following of acolytes who agree on every topic. The world has enough echo chambers already, especially on social media. We all need to think and feel for ourselves, to engage in civil discussions or debates. Our messages should always result in gratitude, exactly as you suggested. I am with you on this point. For that I am grateful to Dennis for giving us an outlet for expression. Wishing you the best during these difficult times, thanks again for your insightful words my friend… Aaron

  8. Aaron — Curious what prompted you to write this piece? It’s obviously a deeply personal statement. Almost a defense? And honestly, there is nothing behind my question other than curiosity. I’m always curious when writers write about their own writing.

    • Thank you Jeff, and good morning. I agree this article comes across rather defensive, and perhaps in many ways it is. I can’t specify what prompted it, but I will say that writing has always served as my own personal counselor. Sometimes I need to exercise the frustrations and disappointments that build over the course of months and years. I feel badly if anyone is put off by my language, the intent is not to attack others, merely to state that I just can’t sugarcoat a world that has gone sour in the middle. There are countless writers already gunning for the same positive outreach. Nothing wrong with that, I’m all for it, the world needs as much light as possible… However, I think there are far too many writers who simply blend in. They are not willing to own the truth or accept a world that is not always kind. My goal is not to be a sourpuss, but sometimes writing needs a sharp edge to grab the reader’s conscience. Perhaps next time I’ll write about something more positive and uplifting, but today I simply needed to vent…

      • “Sometimes I need to exercise the frustrations and disappointments that build over the course of months and years.” Venting is good, and you’re in good company here on Biz360. In no way did I find it off-putting. I was just curious what might be behind the curtain. I was glad to see you here again, as you know I always appreciate your writing.

        • Thank you Jeff, I appreciate your words. I need to be more present for my fellow writers. I’ve had some personal rollercoasters over the past six months, but hopefully I’ll be able to pick up a good head of steam moving forward. Kindest blessings to you and yours, stay safe our there…

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