A few weeks ago my partner and I were listening to an episode of the podcast Writing Excuses. In the episode, the hosts were talking about social media and they mentioned how activism can hurt an authors book sales. I can see where they are coming from: many of the people I know refuse to buy anything by Orsen Scott Card because of his views on homosexuality. But what about those authors who use their books for the purposes of activism? Tamora Pierce, in an interview, mentioned the role of feminism in her books.
Personally, I have found that certain social issues help me create the stories that I write. In my first novel, I used a pro-life/pro-choice debate that I had attended as my influence for one of the more important scenes. I used a discussion about the fact that people deny the existence of asexuality as my influence to write an asexual character. I have used my personal experiences and causes that I care about to create my characters. I have gender queer characters, characters who are transgender, questioning characters, and one of my characters is a lesbian (so far). I have written many of my characters as they are because it is how I best identify with them. While most people may identify best with my characters if they were heterosexual and identified with their assigned gender, I find that my characters are more believable if I write someone who I can relate to. Besides, if you walked into any bookstore and picked up a random fiction novel, there’s a good chance the characters i it are heterosexual and cisgender. In fact, it’s quite likely that the protagonist is a white, heterosexual, cisgender male. That sounds very boring to me. I’d rather write characters so that those who normally don’t get to see themselves in literature can identify with a literary figure. That is my activism.
So what do other writers think? Should activism be kept separate from writing?
May 8th, 2014 at 1:09 pm
I completely agree – our world is incredibly diverse in any number of ways, and it boggles the mind why that diversity isn’t reflected in many of today’s popular novels. I would go so far as to say it’s a writer’s duty to make the conscious decision not to create homogenous worlds, because that doesn’t reflect reality.
May 5th, 2014 at 5:39 am
It’s kind of impossible to keep activism out of writing completely but there are different ways of portraying it- some more subtle than others. Putting a gay or lesbian character in every work is a subconscious way of showing my support for acceptance and equality of the LGBT community. Most people probably just think I write about lesbians because I am one but that’s just silly.
Everyone has their way of trying to get a point across to society or to show it something that often gets overlooked. Writing is our thing.
May 8th, 2014 at 8:45 am
That’s my thought as well.