Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Politics and Writing

Margaret Randall mentioned how her politics have been incredibly influential not only in her writing but in her life. It's amazing to meet someone who was involved in so many revolutions and protests across the world. While my political stance is probably not as extreme as hers, I've often thought about including my commentary in writing. Which issues do you think you include in your writing? Which ones do you wish you could discuss more than you do? Do you think you have any stances that are "too extreme" for publishing?


  1. Until recently I was working on a story that was very politically driven, but I tabled it when I realized it was too caught up in its subtext to succeed as entertainment. That story was what motivated me to take Dr. Warner's 'Psychology of Politics' class last year. Letting go of it was good for me. Since then I've come up with several story ideas born purely for entertainment's sake, but that developed themes--political and not--as they were given more thought. I've noticed that my later stories' themes fit them more naturally than my earlier story's does, even though the earlier one was crafted around its theme.

    Melinda Snodgrass's "Edge of Reason" bears such a resemblance to my earlier idea that it was shocking to read. In fact, my story seems subtle next to hers; I imagined we'd been asked not to read "Edge of Reason" because Melinda was embarrassed by it, as if it was something she'd written in her youth. In that story's case the issue isn't with her politics being too extreme, but with her imposing her agenda at the expense of immersion.

    If I go into political issues in my fiction writing, it's from a future-based perspective in which I can take things that are controversial in today's world for granted. As for issues I'd like to discuss more, I think being able to discuss any of them without fear of alienating my conversation partners would make the experience more pleasant. I've debated politics before; I'm burnt out. I don't enjoy arguing anymore and I'm uncomfortable when people go on about how much they agree when there's nobody present to convince. There isn't much room for nuance when people either discount your opinion from the start or feel betrayed by the slightest disagreement.

  2. Man, I wish I felt comfortable enough to discuss politics, or to hint at them, in my writing. I've never intentionally added political stuff to my writing, but I have considered it.

    I'm with Craig. I'm pretty tired of arguing with people. (I used to debate political stuff a lot.) Whenever political stuff does come up, I usually end up talking down to those around me. Not on purpose, but because I guess I just spend a lot of time with people who are ignorant. I'll give an example to explain what I mean. A little while ago, someone was telling me what he thinks about how the United States handles war, and he was getting some of his facts wrong. One that I can remember is that he was talking about how the US has declared war so many times...but we actually haven't officially declared war since World War II. I corrected him about this and a few other things that he said that weren't exactly correct.

    I didn't really express an opinion, but shit still hit the fan. And I can't talk about stuff with people for this reason. A lot of people our age are not able to hold an intelligent conversation about politics...well, I realize a lot of people in general can't hold an intelligent conversation about it. People don't understand how the government works, and they form opinions without understanding it.

    Of course, even if you do find an intelligent audience who will appreciate political writing, there will still be people who don't agree with you whom you will anger. And it can be tiring arguing with those people. I think it takes a lot of guts to publish something political because you have to be willing to deal with the people who don't agree with you. Some people with different opinions can be good conversation partners if you respect each other, but too many people tend to get really upset if you don't agree with them. I have so much respect for Margaret Randall because of what she's gone through in her life.

    And I wanted to say that it's really annoying when people express an opinion about something, and like Craig said, people go on about how much they agree when there's nobody present to convince. It's basically a huge "let's-pat-ourselves-on-the-back" party. And then if someone mentions the opposite viewpoint, others shut that person down.

    I guess what I'm just trying to say is that it's difficult to find an audience that will respect you and be able to discuss what you have to say intelligently. And if you publish something political, then a lot of different kinds of people will be able to read it, so it's risky.

    And I don't like stuff that is too heavy handed, actually. It's not very fun to read.


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