Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Let's Talk Politics. Or Not.

By Susan

This morning I made the blood-pressure-spiking mistake of watching the Sunday news shows. We seem to be a nation talking in hyperbole at high decibels these days.

But I'm not here to argue politics today.

Instead, I want to talk about how public we should be as writers about our political leanings. The short answer is: it depends. "Should" is not even the right word. "Want to" is more accurate.

I've been collecting advice on social media use lately to prepare for a workshop I'm presenting at the Wyoming Writers Inc. conference in June. Among the advice I've seen is to never, EVER discuss your politics on social media. On the other hand, I've seen some blisteringly funny political rants from authors whose blogs I follow.

I'll 'fess up: I probably wouldn't read their posts if I didn't agree with them. I might also be less inclined to pick up their books. Maybe I'm creating a bubble. Maybe I'm just human.

For many writers, politics shapes their work. Margaret Atwood makes no secret of her views on the role of women in The Handmaid's Tale. There is no doubt of Michael Crichton's global warming skepticism in State of Fear. Dystopian and apocalyptic novels are noted for taking our worst fears and concerns about the current world, and projecting them into the future.

These two authors were quite deliberate about making their point. Many writers view their gift of words as the tool they use to advocate for the world they want. Others might just want to write an entertaining story. There's nothing wrong either way.

All of us as writers face a choice of how much to reveal, particularly in a country that's divided with tempers running high. For the Atwoods and Crichtons of the world, there's little point in hiding their beliefs that are so clearly laid out in their work. Others might see no reason to enter the fray and risk alienating readers.

Still, your views may seep in more than you realize. Our politics and our stories grow from how we view the world and the people in it.

These days, social media adds another layer. Ideally, it's a conversation and an opportunity to connect with your readers. Conversely, you can alienate them.

Do you take a stand on your beliefs, or keep up a neutral public persona? I don't believe there is one right answer, only a balance to be weighed, My only suggestion is to make a conscious choice before you send out that Tweet or blog post.


  1. Timely post, Susan. I've been chewing on this myself. I think your option of "it depends" is right. I have friends and relatives who flood their Facebook with posts of news articles and rants on politics. I tend to just skip through many of these. I think that if the political situation is appropriate for your writing, then it seems appropriate.

    I feel that if I force myself into some polemic--and I've tried--things seem stilted and out of whack for me, even though I feel strongly about many of the political shenanigans going on now. I believe that as artists we owe the world some beauty in a world rapidly becoming ugly with bigotry, hatred, and sheer malice and greed. Listening to Mahler or Chopin or Mozart to calm myself is as good, if not better, than reading some strident rant that fuels my anger.

    1. I think we all find our own place, and making beauty in the midst of whatever's going on in the world is not a bad place to be. Thanks for stopping by and sharing, Art.


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