Thursday, January 30, 2014

Reconciling My Genre and My Politics

The world consists of contradictions. On one side of the planet, we diet. On the other side, we starve. I think about these incongruities. They rattle me on a regular basis. I absorb news about disasters, shootings and leaders who lack courage. And then, I think of myself. My small world is a study in contradictions, too.

Ever since I started writing my first novel, I've often felt that writing romance doesn't befit the needs of the planet. I wrote a romance novel while the world's financial systems were in global meltdown. What was I thinking? Then, I started another one, even more racy than the first. The financial house was an inferno (including my own). Again, what was I thinking? For some reason, I couldn't stop.

This says something about me, because I started this fiction-writing journey as an outlet. I discovered I could control everything I put on the page. At least, the first draft. This is comforting. More than comforting, it's regenerative. And I believe that if my writer friends were polled, they'd say they share this feeling.

But the world is still burning.

Chris Hedges (long-time reporter now activist) posted this week on a very long diatribe about the doom awaiting our species. His piece has clung to me for days now. I can't paraphrase well enough to provide the gist. For me, the ear worm that stuck was: the oceans are dying. And this idea is one of many, many realities strangling our planet. Most of the bad news is made worse by politics and rampant, unchecked capitalism.

He hung his hopes on, step back here, imagination. Human imagination. We, as an intelligent species, have the ability to overcome problems by using our brains. He didn't quite sell this idea 100 percent, because at the end of the piece, he admits he doesn't know if we'll survive. But this idea brings me back around to creativity. Why I write.
Someone wrote on this a long time ago.

I didn't write a novel to sex-up an old character from a wonderful French novel (although that happened in the process). I wrote about him because I wanted to redeem him, give him hope, give a reader hope, and along the way, it soothed my brain's creative-pleasure center. Many, many writers have changed the world with their words. I don't hope for such grand outcomes, but if I can touch one or two people, wow. Bring it on. I put some beauty back into this strange place where we live with each other, sometimes uneasily.

Thanks for reading my philosophical rant today. Now, I'm going to put together a survival kit. Probably filled with books.


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