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:
I find myself thinking: how can I write about magic now? But I think maybe I have to write about magic more fiercely than I’ve ever done.
— Catherynne Votelente (@catvalente) November 9, 2016
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.