Writing the Human Condition

Post copyright Doris McCraw








Writers write about the human condition. We tell stories about falling in love, solving mysteries and defeating evil.  Still at the heart of every story is the joys and sorrows of our heroes and heroines. Each person tells the story as they know it, but where do we turn when we want to understand the condition? For myself, it is some of the old and new classics.

Who doesn’t respond to the speech in Shakespeare’s Macbeth:

Tomorrow, and tomorrow, and tomorrow,

Creeps in this petty pace from day to day,

To the last syllable of recorded time;

And all our yesterdays have lighted fools

The way to dusty death. Out, out, brief candle!

Life’s but a walking shadow, a poor player,

That struts and frets his hour upon the stage,

And then is heard no more. It is a tale

Told by an idiot, full of sound and fury,

Signifying nothing.

It is probably one of my favorite of all the lines Shakespeare wrote and there are many.








The Helen (Hunt) Jackson poem Two Truths speaks of the dichotomy of love

Darling,’ he said, ‘I never meant
To hurt you;’ and his eyes were wet.
‘I would not hurt you for the world:
Am I to blame if I forget?’

‘Forgive my selfish tears!’ she cried,
‘Forgive! I knew that it was not
Because you meant to hurt me, sweet-
I knew it was that you forgot!’

But all the same, deep in her heart
Rankled this thought, and rankles yet,-
‘When love is at its best, one loves
So much that he cannot forget.’



For the sheer pleasure of reading and hearing life stories about the human condition,  you have only to read Edgar Lee Masters “Spoon River Anthology”.  A classic when published in 1915. To me it still has the power to make me laugh, cry, and be angry. It tells the tales of a small town through the epitaphs of the inhabitants. http://spoonriveranthology.net/spoon/river/

Who hasn’t felt the pain of not being loved like Mabel Osborne as she says at the end of her story?

I who loved you, Spoon River,And craved your love,
Withered before your eyes, Spoon River--
Thirsting, thirsting,
Voiceless from chasteness of soul to ask you for love,
You who knew and saw me perish before you,
Like this geranium which someone has planted over me,
And left to die.

Or the joy of living like Lucinda Matlock at the end of hers:

At ninety--six I had lived enough, that is all,
And passed to a sweet repose.
What is this I hear of sorrow and weariness,
Anger, discontent and drooping hopes?
Degenerate sons and daughters,
Life is too strong for you--
It takes life to love Life.

Who inspires you? Who do you turn to when you want to delve into the human condition?

Until next time, here is to writing that gives us joy, teaches something and brings us together in a common understanding of what it is to be human.


Product Details

HOME FOR HIS HEART by Doris McCraw writing as Angela Raines, available on:

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“Film & Photography on the Front Range” : the stories of the people who made film and photograph history on the Colorado Front Range. You can buy online at: http://www.amazon.com


20 thoughts on “Writing the Human Condition

  1. I too like what Tom Wolfe has to say through his characters in “Look Homeward Angel.” And how about the observations of Scout about the human condition in “To Kill the Mockingbird.”


    1. Mike,
      Some authors just resonate with us to much. They say in such unique ways that stay with us.

      Thanks for stopping by and commenting. Doris


    1. Abbie,

      It sounds like they were good memories. I also have fond memories of performing some of these characters in forensic tournaments.



  2. Very profound! Loved the quotes. Some sayings do resonate. I had a father who would spout certain quotes at times, from poems he learned in school, and he only attended about 4 years of grade school and passed his eighth grade exams so quit to farm. Those quotes stay with me also. Interesting post! Neva


    1. Neva,
      Quotes do stay with us, don’t they. Perhaps as an actor and writer I love words that when spoken have such power. I grew up around people who quoted a lot. They are fond memories. What a gift your father must have had to love words and learn the quotes. Thank you for sharing that story, it warmed my heart. Doris


  3. The poetry of Edna Saint Vincent Millay inspired me with its heartbreaking truths. I also like the quirky poems of Stephen Crane. Quotes from movies also inspire me, like the words of Starman, played by Jeff Bridges in which he says, “Humans are at their best when things are at their worst.” It makes me think of how people took care of each other during 9/11 and Katrina and how the missionaries who contracted Eboli and almost died are eager to go back and help those still suffering physically and spiritually.
    A very thought provoking article, Doris. I wish you everything wonderful.


    1. Sarah,

      Words do inspire and help us to relate to the world. I also love the authors you mention and ‘Starman’, oh I always loved that quote. That observance is so true. We do show out best in times of trial.

      Thank you for your kind words and support Sarah. I wish you the same. Doris


  4. Love the quotes, Doris. I remember loving Spoon River when I read it years ago, but it’s been a long time. Poetry, in general, is always helpful. I get a “Poem-a-Day” email from the Academy of American Poets and I’m pretty much always inspired by those.


    1. Stephanie,

      I also love poetry, but never thought I would be writing it. I will check into the ‘Poem-a-Day’. I get daily quotes that also give me a lot to think about, but I will say few hit me like Masters in his Spoon River. Doris


    1. Thank you Cher’ley. I fell in loved with poetry as a child, but as I grew that love stayed with me. Poetry allows us to say so much in few words, but I also think any good writing does the same. Doris


  5. My goodness… I didn’t realize that “To Kill A Mockingbird” was Harper Lee’s only published book — and it won the Pulitzer Prize!


    1. Mike,
      Some works are just the best there is, and I don’t know the “To Kill A Mockingbird” could have ever been topped. Now we will never know. But oh the beauty of those words and comments on humans. Doris


    1. Linda,

      You are welcome. I read some of those words, and speak a few now and then, they never fail to inspire and make me want to aspire to their beauty. I performed at a military reunion of folks from the 1940’s-1970’s and read Lucinda Matlock, of did they love that one. Doris


  6. Thank you, Doris. Shakespeare and Helen Hunt aren’t new to me – though the others are. Reflective and powerful words and I love the last quoted line- ‘It takes life to love life.’ It’s heartbreaking when someone loses their capacity to recognise and reason as before (like Dementia sufferers) and they no longer have that possibility of having life in order to love living.


    1. Nancy,

      Spoon River Anthology has been a favorite of mine for years. I probably have at least four different copies of the text. I also have resonated with the last line also. My hope is that those who lose their abilities were able to live and love life before. It is a devastating disease. Doris


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