Keep Writing

It’s hard to write about fiction, good or bad, when the world is the way it is today. Unchanged from the world it was yesterday, but with a lot of the hope and illusion stripped away. Yesterday, I was crying over stories of women born before they had the right to vote finally able to vote, in their old age, for a female president. Today, I have to wonder why I believed this current world would vote for a highly qualified woman who mismanaged her emails over an openly racist, misogynistic sexual abuser with zero qualifications except that he’s a rich, white man.

And there isn’t a ‘but’. There isn’t a smooth way to transition into not despairing, or to find a silver lining. All I have is this Twitter screencap, which sums up a conversation I had with another author this morning, more pithily than I could say it:

Stories are important. Stories give people hope. Stories tell people that they’re not alone. I know many people who read this blog are creative folk, writers, artists, book lovers. In times like this, it’s easy to despair, because we don’t know what we can possibly do to help against so much hate. It’s easy to feel like creative work has no value when the real world feels so dark and dangerous and hateful. But don’t stop creating. Create for yourself, to help your own feelings, and create for others. To bring a smile to the face of someone struggling. To make people feel connected and validated, like they matter and like they belong. Create because it’s cathartic, because it’s inspiring, and because it can bring about real-world change.

On Twitter, I’ve seen a few authors comment that people who voted for Trump shouldn’t read their books, that their support is unwanted. I know those authors feel angry and betrayed. But I don’t think that is the answer either. Studies have shown, again and again, that representation in popular fiction is one of the best ways of increasing empathy. It puts names and faces and emotions to an “other” that people may avoid or simply rarely encounter in real life. Marginalised people need those stories, but the oppressive majority need those stories too. They’re one of the tools of change.

So write. Write magic. Write romance. Write hope, and fear, and struggles against darkness. Write about people who are made to feel wrong, or unwanted, or less-than. Write about people who don’t get written about. Write those stories because, somewhere in the world, there is somebody who needs it.

And, in the meantime, be kind to yourself, everyone. Remember that you are important and loved, and that no amount of hate in the world will change the fact that you matter.

09 comments on “Keep Writing

  • Courtney , Direct link to comment

    Thank you for this post. Like you, I’m sickened and saddened and revolted and angry and hearing some of my coworkers at work gloat because they voted for Trump made me want to throw something out the window. I’m working on a manuscript, but I couldn’t write much this week because I was so wired over the election. But now I’m going to try. And I’m still hoping for better days.

  • Sean C. , Direct link to comment

    Well, as a minor note, the Democrats appear to have won the popular vote (which will probably grow as more of California comes in), so more people did vote for Hillary over Trump. Take what comfort you can in that.

    It just didn’t matter in America’s asinine electoral college system. Twill be a rough four years.

    • Ellesar , Direct link to comment

      When my son told me she actually had more votes that made it even worse. Funnily enough in the UK the same sort of electoral system prevented UKIP getting seats – they got LOADS of votes, but spread out over the country. And then the UKIPpers got what they wanted anyway!

  • Ellesar , Direct link to comment

    I think we will be seeing more dystopian writing – just as long as it isn’t too literal I’m OK with that.

  • Mila , Direct link to comment

    Well said. We should all keep creating, and not just because writing can bring solace and healing to us and to others. Books don’t just entertain, books teach. All of us have learned something from fiction, and we often encounter important ideas for the first time in books. Books open our eyes to the world, and by writing and reading we share our own world with others and learn about someone else’s.

    And, most importantly, books should be open to EVERYONE, not only to people who already share our beliefs. I never liked this attitude “if you think this or believe that, don’t read my books, I don’t want to talk to you.” I understand that people are hurting and it’s a natural reaction, but it’s a sure way to alienate people who might otherwise reconsider their opinions. The best thing to do is keep writing, keep exchanging ideas, and welcome everyone to the discussion.

    On a related note, this Sunday I’m voting in my own country’s presidential elections, and, coincidentally, we also have a chance to elect our first female president. Let’s see how that one goes…

  • Deidre Dreams , Direct link to comment

    Thank you so much for this post! I really needed this. I felt sick with sadness and then anger yesterday. And it sapped the motivation and energy right out of me.
    I am working on a children’s book and a picture book at the moment, but like you say, I felt as if it is so trivial what I’m doing when there is so much direct work to be done. I just felt silly and naive.
    By coincidence, I already had a chat date with another artist for today and that already helped me get some of my energy and inspiration back. And this post just lifted me up again. Because yes, stories are important. For marginalised people to recognise themselves in and for the people in the dominant group to learn empathy. Thank you for reminding me of that.

  • Lars Sjöström , Direct link to comment

    If Donald Trump was a fictional villain I would say that this character is not believable.

    A good thing with fiction is that we can make the people we dislike the role models for the bad guys.

  • Linda , Direct link to comment

    The world is divided and full of hate yes. Trump, Putin and terrorism.

    But dark days like this, it´s easy to forget that the world is also full of love and people with sense. Creative people (and others) who DID vote for HIlary. She DID get most of the votes, just not enough states. More than half of the population in America DID NOT want Trump, and thousands of them are now out on the streets protesting against him.

    The world isn´t just hate. The world isn´t just morons like Trump. The world is so much more. Together we are strong. Keep on reading and writing!

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