Write, publish, show middle finger

So, there I was SOCM0B — which for those of you who haven’t become acquainted with the “Things I learn from My Patients” time waster and who are too lazy to follow the first link (for the love of heaven, if you prize your time do not follow the second) means “Standing on the corner, minding my own business” which usually happens before “Some Bad dude” or “that evil guy” or perhaps “that bitch” came up and inflicted near-fatal trauma on the person being SOCMOB.

(And btw, the gentleman of the medical persuasion who travels the internets under the name Vindaloo Diesel was the one who introduced me to that site now… 10? years gone. Which is why at one point I was SOCMOB when two bad dudes showed up in my head, which is how I wrote A Few Good Men.)

Anyway, you probably think that at this point I would have learned not to SOCMOB. I mean, we’re filling the truck tomorrow to drive down in part one of the great move. (Then coming back to prepare for part 2.) And I should have.

But there I was all innocent and SOCMOBish intending to put a guest post here for tomorrow, when an utter and complete bitch came up the internet and got all under my nose, forcing me to write this post.

Okay, so, she didn’t directly address me. But her post addressed me, you and the whole damned world. It was a ridiculous putting-down, discouraging, blighting post, of the sort that needs to be rammed back down the throat of the bitches doing that shit. Because you know what they are? They are crabs, trying to pull you down into the miserable crab bucket in which they live. They’re self-enslaved thralls who do not deserve to address free writers. And they are despicable, and evil and — above all — ridiculous. They only have the power you give them, and I ain’t giving bitch-chick ANY.

She can f*ck right off and take other academic assholes with her. (With an apology to assholes, which have a useful function, for comparing them to these sterile, uncreative and ridiculous human beings.)

So, first of all an observation: This chick’s name is sort of like the girl named Grace who trips over her own feet, or the unending succession of Linda or Bonita named girls who could break mirrors by looking in them.
She’s not Sunny. She’s a Friday faced fustian-headed academician who has traded in whatever creativity she ever had in return for filling her head with other people’s bad ideas. Perhaps she should take the advice from the hippie musical Hair and let the sun shine in. Of course, it would require her to extract her head from her fourth point of contact.

Now, to answer her questions:

1- Why do you want to write this? What is your motivation?

Well, mostly, the same the motivation usually is: to get the d*mn thing out of my mind, before it starts seriously interfering with my ability to lead a functional life, because ever since I was six or so, the characters show up, and the stories follow, and then …. well. And then I have to write them down. And they’re never happy unless they’re read either. So I have to make them interesting for other people.

So, my motivation for writing this is that I was SOCMOB when some bad dude, or perhaps that bitch or that annoying alien showed up and said “write my story.”

But let me ask you, Professor Sourly, what’s your motivation for writing this little screed?

2- What is your personal, emotional, psychological, ethical investment in writing it?

Uh? Come again? You’re staticking. My main investment in it is to tell the story. If I also get paid for it, it’s a bonus, because man, woman or small furry animalia do not live by air and bullshit alone. I mean, sure, professors of a leftist stripe might, but some of us work for a living.

So, personal: I’m a writer. Writers write. Emotional: Well, I get pretty emotional when telling a story. Also, I’m emotionally interested in looking after my family. Psychological: It’s like this. I had this story in my head, you see. And it would have to come out. Ethical: no ethics are harmed in the telling of my stories. I don’t write things that scan as evil to me. That is in general my stories discourage the taking of people’s things and hurting people. Or, in other words, I’m anti-communist. But I don’t preach in my books. I just write the story. It’s just that it’s pretty hard to keep your core convictions from the page. Which you’d know Rainy, if you had any, instead of the semi-digested crap you allowed your head to be filled with.

3. Can someone else tell this story better? Is it someone else’s story to tell?

Hey, Blustery, are you okay? Are the neckbolts too tight? Lost a screw somewhere?

What in actual hell are you talking about?

There are tons of people who could tell the story better, sure. But most of them are dead, and the ones who are alive would probably find it very odd if I buttonholed them in the middle of the street and said “Hey, I have this idea and you have to write it out.”

It’s a good way to get knifed. Or worse.

So, what precisely is wrong with your head? Do you think there’s a way to make the “best person” write it? Or perhaps — since all of you Marxist idiots believe in a theory of finite supply and scarcity — do you think ideas are limited, and that once something is written someone else can’t write it? That if, say, I write the story of a magical heist, Jim Butcher will have to never write it?

At this point I have to ask — Stormy — do you EVER read? I mean for fun? And are you aware that ideas aren’t copyrightable? Only the execution is.

As for its being someone else’s story to tell? That happens, sometimes. Sometimes a story lands in my head that for whatever reason isn’t mine to tell. I don’t have the specialized knowledge. I lack the emotional experience. I simply don’t have the time to do the research.

And yet, a certain number of them won’t go away, and I’m then forced to do the work. Which is why I’m now writing a novel that first came to me when I was fourteen. In another country. In a different language. So?

Again, unless you wish me to run around forcing people to write ideas I have, I don’t see what your point is. Other than that storm cone over your head.

4- What does YOUR telling of the story do? Does it replicate prior violence, oppression/injustice? Does it provide new understanding or insight?

Okay. It’s late, and I’ve spent the last few days packing. But I’m looking at the screen and blinking at this nonsense.

Look, was Gale here wrapped in cotton on the day of her birth, so she could never come in contact with the real reality? Is her head so full of bullshit that she can’t tell words from actions, reality from the crap in her mind?

Listen, Hail-Driven-Mary, my telling the story tells the story. It’s amazing you know, but humans have been telling stories since the world has been a world, and until literature professors started interfering with both the stories and the humans, it never occurred to a single person that telling the story did anything but tell the story.

For one, because most of the time the story is just a way to spend some time. And then it’s gone. If it’s exceptionally good, it gives people something to dream on. But it doesn’t change the world, for all that you might think it does. It’s just a fricking story. Oh, and the curtains are blue, sister.

And while we’re at it, how would a story REPLICATE violence or oppression? If I knife you in a story — you’ll know, because your name will be Cyclone — you will be somewhat angry. If I knife you in real life you’ll bleed.

A story cannot perpetrate violence. A story cannot oppress you. A story can only, AT MOST offend you. And sister: if you think that you have some way of preventing people from writing stories that offend you, or that your lilac perfumed feelings are so precious that we shouldn’t ever, then you need to be offended. Offended, shaken, and pushed out of your little cocoon, until you at least have some idea in which direction reality might lie.

5- What is your power balance/imbalance as a writer to the subject matter?

Dear Hurricane, you have rocks in your head. (With apologies to rocks.)

I’m not Clinton, and my subject matter isn’t an intern on her knees under my desk.

What the hell are you actually, for reals talking about. I understand imbalance of power. It’s a bad idea for the boss to sleep with the maid, because he could ruin her. It’s a bad idea for the president to schtup the internet. It’s disgusting for the mass-murdering democrat mayor to hit on his subordinates. And editors shouldn’t fuck writers. Oh, and you should probably keep your hands off your students.

But a WRITER and the writer’s SUBJECT?

Even if you’re talking about non-fiction, (let alone fiction) what the hell is the power imbalance with the subject? Power imbalance or balance applies between individuals, not between people and things. A subject is a thing.

Oh, but if you misreport something, like say claiming that there’s some “gate” with a republican president, when you know it’s not true, the entire leftist media will pile on and then….

Yeah, but that’s called lying and cheating, cupcake. Not power imbalance. Lying and cheating are ugly and sins. They are not some kind of mythical ethical quandary.

Say, for instance, that you wrote this to prevent anyone more talented than you from writing and thereby shining you down. That would be an ugly, evil thing you did. It’s called pride and bearing false witness.

You don’t need to invent new sins Blustery. The old ones will do. You’re not original enough for anything like making up new ones. You’re merely being incoherent.

6. Finally should you write/publish this at all? As with most ethical questions, the key is not can one, but should one?

Or?

No, seriously. Or?

If I publish it and you think I shouldn’t…. what’s the ethical quandry?

If I should write something utterly evil, say claiming that we should take things from the rich and eat them too, what do you think that would do? Oh, never mind Frosty. You think it would bring about paradise, don’t you. Because you have faecaliths between your ears.

But as much as I say Marx should have been strangled with his swaddling clothes, I’m not stupid enough to think the fault is all his. Sure, what he wrote was pure, stained scarlet evil, but you know what? If it hadn’t fallen on receptive ears, it would never have caused any harm.

And frankly, as neurotically incoherent as he was, the same evildoers who seized on him might have seized on anyone at all. And filled millions of graves.

So what is the ethical question in publishing or not publishing? Precisely?

If it’s non fiction, tell the truth and shame the devil. If it’s fiction, I aim to entertain.

So I will publish. And you can be damned.

But on your last paragraph….. See here, Thundery, you should have applied that question to this piece of bizarre incoherence.

Just because you can write it, should you?

Or to quote my grandmother: seems to me that you’ve wasted an excellent opportunity to keep your lip zipped.

Because your bizarre post seems to be riding in all directions convinced of things such as that words are violence or can perpetrate violence. Or perhaps that words can oppress people. Or that we must balance the power between humans and things. (Words, events, stories are things, not animated.)

Oh, I know what you’re trending to. ABD in languages and literature, you know? I’ve come across your ilk before.

I think when you were two years old — Snowy — someone gave you a book where the writer used your name in telling the story, and you were bowled over by it, and excited that you had all these adventures (I assume you were as soft-headed at two as you are now) and from then on became convinced people can only write about people precisely like them: or in other words, themselves. And can only be interested in reading about people exactly like them. And–

I don’t know, sister. Perhaps you’re mentally deficient in some way and have a total lack of imagination. Not my problem, and I’d even feel sorry for you, except….

Except you took advantage of your position, as a professor of writing, which the young and stupid — the conditions often run together — might think means you actually know something about writing, to undermine confidence and break young ones and convince them they shouldn’t write.

And that’s evil, speaking of ethics. That’s raw, unadulterated evil.

The writing life often resembles nothing so much as a series of kicks to the teeth. But let them be administered when unavoidable, not because you’re a sadist who loves hurting creatives.

In other words: no sale. You’re not the boss of me, and your appeal to ethics reveals only that you have no idea what “ethics” means.

I and mine will write whatever we want. And you can writhe in discomfort and hatred. Come on, it’s not like you can convince me that you had anything else penciled in for the next sixty years. If you’re truthful with yourself, it’s all you know how to do, and the only thing you’re good at.

The truth is, we won’t even notice. We’ll be having too much fun, and being too successful creating stories.

So, dear readers: Write, Publish. Repeat.

And hold up a middle finger to Sunny-dearest. Maybe if she hurts enough it will cure her of her sour puss delusion that she knows who should write what. Maybe it will even set her free to read and write for fun. And that would indeed be a ray of sunshine.

90 comments

  1. What A Moron! 😡

    (And comparing “her” to morons is likely an insult … to morons.) 😉

      1. what an embezzle…

        i can’t even with this one, i’m trying to not do either a snarky or a very cold and demeaning fisking of it myself.

    1. i think she’s frustrated that her latest micro-press published book on the mating habits of tree frogs isn’t a bestseller….

  2. More and more I’m convinced if people like her had lived in the mid-nineteenth century they would have been writing Edifying Tracts for Young People, to lead them into the paths of righteousness. And to the Temperance Union.
    For the rest, she’s bought the idea that any story her authority figures frown upon is probably driven by a conscious or unconscious need to maintain the oppressive system of “white privilege,” So the true duty of the dedicated “ally,” in the struggle to overturn the system is to to never write stories, lest they inadvertently be used against the cause. Unless, of course, they can write Edifying Stories that win the authority figures’ approval.
    Blech.

    1. Oh dear yes. The ones excerpted in the primer and levels one and two McGuffey’s Readers. I read enough of those to, um, probably warp my sense of things for a while.

    2. No, I don’t think so. There’s a key difference between the current crop of Social Justice Warriors and the Temperance Unionists and other Reformers of the Victorian Age.

      The Victorians, by and large, were actually addressing REAL problems. We look back today and think they were a bunch of prudes… while we have zero clue how much more havoc would be wrought in society and on the personal level if we tried to live lives of modern “morality” without the backstops of birth control, anti-biotics, welfare and modern medicine. Nothing quite like rampant STDs, cholera epidemics, rotgut gin, rum and whiskey, along with all the other joys of the 19th century to focus the mind on perhaps not making IRRESPONSIBILITY the core “good” of society.

      So perhaps Sunny would have been an earnest Victorian scold, but given where she’s coming from, I’d say it’s far more likely she would have been a floozy who left behind a passel of orphans when she died before 30 from some Victorian Age crud.

  3. A ray of beautiful prose to brighten my morning. Of course I have no power over this subject matter, but you’re doing a fine job of it.

  4. You walked all around the principal problem.

    You are telling stories for entertainment and profit. She doesn’t even use a word analogous to either in her little directive; she views storytelling as an assertion of her Narrative, with a big dash of Woke.

    Furthermore, I’ve seen virtually identical “writers’ guides” floating around the web for at least half a decade under various names. It’s a meme crafted to discourage people from even trying to write a story unless the story and author conform to their directives. “Just give up; you can’t possibly meet our standards; there’s no place for you here.” Every would-be writer who gives up, they count as a win for the Narrative.

    1. LOL. Add this to the guy on Twitter last week who posted that indie publishing was “taking the bread out of the mouths of professional writers.” And all indie authors should be ASHAMED, ASHAMED. These people need more mockery, because taking them seriously just puffs them up.

  5. My answers:

    1- Why do you want to write this? What is your motivation?
    A. I want to. B. I get paid. Got a problem with that? If so, why?

    2- What is your personal, emotional, psychological, ethical investment in writing it?
    It’s fun and get paid. Good enough for me. What’s your problem with that?

    3. Can someone else tell this story better? Is it someone else’s story to tell?
    Probably. But so what? I have chosen to write it. If someone else wants to write it, they can too.

    4- What does YOUR telling of the story do? Does it replicate prior violence, oppression/injustice? Does it provide new understanding or insight?
    It entertains my readers. If it provides new understanding or insight, cool. But basically my readers read something to get entertained or learn something.

    5- What is your power balance/imbalance as a writer to the subject matter?
    Irrelevant. Don’t care anyway. The market decides.

    6. Finally should you write/publish this at all? As with most ethical questions, the key is not can one, but should one?
    Yup. One should always write and publish. More speech always trumps less speech. If you choose not to listen, that is your choice, but it is unethical remove that opportunity from others.

    Mind I write non-fiction (history) but I write what I want to and don’t particularly care about The Narrative.

  6. Well, she just sounds like a real bundle of happiness, and a joy to be around. As for myself, I write because I love to tell stories, to create characters so convincing that readers want to read more. And to get paid.

  7. Well, that could also be Sitting On Couch Minding Own Business… 😛

    …or even Squatting On Commode Minding Own Business. Ewww.

    3. Can someone else tell this story better?

    No. Nobody else can tell THIS story. Nobody else is me. If somebody else tries, it won’t be the SAME story.

      1. or she ‘s resentful that someone else wrote a story she ‘had in mind’ and it was better than she could ever do….

        or more likely, this has happened to her several times.

      2. Creativity: shaping the Narrative into approved expressions

        “All within the Narrative, nothing outside the Narrative, nothing against the Narrative.”

        Even storytelling — perhaps *particularly* storytelling — must conform.

    1. She’s the academic historian who shreds a book in a review or critique for not being the book she would have written, had she written the book.

  8. I’m pretty sure that if you knife your actual readers in a story the only thing that will hurt is your ears.

    “Look! Look! Sarah killed me! I’m a red-shirt! Eeeeeeee! Look! You have to read this now! She KILLED me!”

  9. This chick irritates me more than she should, probably because I’m in a lousy headspace and I can almost see myself agreeing with her.
    Most of the regulars here know that I’m writing a series saved on my computer as What the Fic, and I called it that on purpose. I have no business writing this damned thing- for one thing, it’s about the Army and I’m a civilian; for another, it’s the type of story that will piss off literally everyone who reads it- and if I took Sunny’s advice, I’d put it away and move on to the next thing.
    Nope. No can do.
    Because every time I think about doing that, something in my head tells me not to be stupid, and keep writing. And that’s kept me sane (okay, mostly sane) for almost a year.
    So this *thing* can go pound sand; I’m going to write a book. Or seven.

    1. On my shelves, there are some books I’ve had since the 1970s, and a couple since the 1960s. Some of them aren’t even very well-written, even by the loose standards of the genres they were sold in. Plots that hold water like a colander, or that read like several different short stories crudely pasted together. Hackneyed, stereotyped, lazy, or just plain incompetent exposition. Books that are examplars of how the editing process of Traditional Publishing failed big time.

      Yet they’ve survived countless culls, because even if the author wasn’t up to his task, he had a *story*, that yanked you in by the eyeballs and on an E-ticket ride to wherever it ended up. Some of the books didn’t even have proper endings; maybe page count limits, maybe the author ran out fo steam.

      But for all their visible faults, they were worth the ride, and worth re-visiting over and over. The original thrill is long worn smooth, but it’s still there, and it’s still a nice ride.

      Write *your* book. Resist the urge to write a McBook. Some people are going to hate it, no matter *what* you write. So don’t pander to them. Your readers – the ones you’re looking for – don’t *care* about your style manual or your detail edits or whatever. They’re looking for competent entertainment, and maybe, just maybe, another E-ticket ride.

    2. Not everyone will hate it. I don’t.
      But I know what you mean. I’m convinced that book I’m writing that’s been with me since I was 14 is going to piss off everyone….

          1. Weirdly, there are ponies. The MC rides, because I needed her to be shy but still quick-thinking and level-headed in a crisis. And ‘when you’re dealing with horses, there’s only room for one panic attack at a time, and it’s never your turn.’ 😀

        1. Let’s not mislead the readers too much. It’s time travel romance. Not MIL SF. And at this rate, I’m going to going to a) publish it under a pen name that none of you recognize or, b) publish it under an open pen name and promptly hide under a rock for the rest of my life.

            1. Perhaps, Mil SF with a Romance Element? 😉

              Eric Flint does a good job of including a Romance Element into several of his books.

                1. Hey, you brought up Ringo and romance ((grin))

                  Personally, I expect to have good fun reading her stuff, not really anticipating anything like that

  10. If you’re a human being, you can tell human stories. Heck, some of us even tell stories about non-humans. Writing about people different than us is kind of what authors do. This caste system the other side is trying to perpetuate would be better suited for hive-minded insects.

  11. She misheard “Kill your darlings” as “kill your dreams” and went downhill from there, IMHO. Although, if you want to publish academic fiction, then this is probably a safe checklist for not getting fired.

    1. For academic writing in general, it seems like the answers are even more obvious:

      1- Why do you want to write this? What is your motivation?
      I want to keep my job. Publish or perish, you know.

      2- What is your personal, emotional, psychological, ethical investment in writing it?
      See above.

      3. Can someone else tell this story better? Is it someone else’s story to tell?
      I’m the one who ran the #@#$%! experiment, so I’m the one who has the right to put her name on the paper first.

      4- What does YOUR telling of the story do? Does it replicate prior violence, oppression/injustice? Does it provide new understanding or insight?
      It gives an accurate description of the results of my experiment along with any broader conclusions I feel can be drawn from them. If I didn’t think it would provide “new understanding or insight” I wouldn’t have bothered with the work in the first place.

      5- What is your power balance/imbalance as a writer to the subject matter?
      If it was the sort of experiment where this matters, the IRB would have decided this before I started.

      6. Finally should you write/publish this at all? As with most ethical questions, the key is not can one, but should one?
      Again, should have been decided before I did the experiment. If I think it’s only “ethical” to publish if the experiment went one way, then I’m not a scholar, I’m a propagandist.

  12. Given many writers’ issues with characters grabbing the writer by the nose and dragging them into stories they never intended to write, wouldn’t the power imbalance be on the subject’s side?

    Not being able to say no seems like a pretty strong level of compulsion is being applied, all told…

    1. For the power imbalance between writer and subject, think the 90s movie Ghost with Whoopie Goldberg’s medium vs. Patrick Swayze’s ghost. All Swayze can do is annoy her by singing “I’m Henry the Eighth I am” 24/7…but he can keep doing it for all eternity.

  13. Boot Camp for writers:

    This is my story. There are many like it, but this one is mine.
    My story is my creation, and I give it life. I must master it as I master my life.
    A story unwritten and unrecorded, is useless. Without stories, Man is useless.
    I must tell my story true…

  14. That (the “guide,” not your fisk) was the dumbest thing I’ve seen all week. And I’ve seen some pretty high-level idiocy this week.

  15. My answers:

    1-Why do you want to write this?

    Because if I don’t it’s going to stay stuck in my head… and there are already 34 worlds in there and more gaining. It’s getting crowded.

    2-Investment.

    There are more stories gaining with worlds attached. I need more room in my brain.

    3-can someone else do it better?

    No they might tell a similar story but it wouldn’t be the same. Even the me of 3 years ago will tell it differently… must write faster.

    4-what does my telling do?

    If I do it right, it sends the story to someone else. If I do it even righter they will like it enough to send me money so I can spend more time getting stories out of my brain.

    5-Power balance?

    “Run! There’s another hundred of these back there that I can SEE! Probably more behind! Run fast enough they can only catch me a few at a time!”

    6-Should I?

    I don’t want to find out what the stories will do to me if I don’t….

  16. That looks like a giant list of sticks with which to beat people who make her feel bad– I mean, who are “hateful”– combined with the kind of lies folks tell themselves when they feel guilty for that which they have failed to do.

    1. Well, it’s different to get righteously indignant over, “It’s hard, and I’m lazy.”

      And if one starts from the assumption that they’re *better* than those filthy proles, admitting that they can do things you’re unable to risks challenging one’s self-image.

  17. Dan Lane on Writing.

    Why and what your motivation is on writing is pointless pondering, unless you are seeing a psychologist (and need to see a psychologist). Some write for profit, and that is good. Some write for pleasure, and that is also good. Some write to get the bloody things out of their own head. And that is good, too.

    To the reader, it does not matter why you wrote the damned thing. The reader does not care who you are, outside of a tiny percentage (if you are lucky). The reader does not care what you are thinking, or why you wrote it. It does not matter at all!

    The reader cares if the story is good. For fiction, this means entertaining. You can get away with a lot of crap if the story is good. I’ve read translated tales that are nigh unreadable from the errors, but have a core story that is engaging enough to wade through. Good story trumps ALL THE THINGS. Write a good story, then work on the details and the fiddly bits. This is editing. Editing can make a good story great, but it cannot rescue a crap story.

    Your person, psychological, and ethical investment in the story is likewise irrelevant. The reader will only know these things exist if and only if you tell them about it. And even if you do, most of them don’t care. Fiction readers read their books for the funsies. If you can educate will providing the funsies, all to the good. But no funsies means no funds. Good writers entertain. The other kind only exist in artificial environments, and nobody reads them.

    I write some pretty evil stuff. I like creating villains. I’ve written torturers who prize good work ethics and craftsmanship. I’ve written murderers who delight in the panic and desperation of their victims, excited as much by the gore as by the death of hope. I’ve written obsessive monsters, reluctant assassins, the insane, the vile, and the broken. Some of my first stories could be classed as psychological horror.

    I am not a villain, though.

    Smiting evil leads to the good guys winning, and the very essential last bit of showing the reader how the characters that survive get their happy ending. In classic good fiction, the characters you like get their happy ending. And it’s important to have it because that ties up the story in a neat little bow and lets the reader fill in their happily ever after without too much interference from the writer.

    Readers need that space to let their imaginations fill in the details. Too much detail on the part of the writer makes for boring fiction, and the number one cardinal sin in Dan Lane’s writing is boring the reader. The writer *needs* to tug on those strings of emotion to get the story going, so anger, sadness, frustration, tension, and loss are all valid, but boredom means they put the book down and maybe don’t pick it back up again.

    Where was I? Oh, right.

    Nobody else can tell the story in your head but you. It isn’t anyone else’s to tell. You can get someone else to write it, maybe, but then it’s their story. You want to get the technical details right, so SMEs are important to snag. Subject Matter Experts, viz. Larry Correia on guns for ex. Even biographies are often written by someone other than the person what it happened to. Tell the damned story, and tell it well. Give no flux whether someone else can “tell the story better,” unless that prods you into becoming a better writer. These are your stories. Tell them well.

    And your telling of the story is there to tell the story, period. Some stories *do* have violence, oppression, and injustice in them. Most of mine do. Rising action and conflict generally have antagonists in them. Even character vs. environment can have elements of violence in it. And I mine history for things to put in stories, like Tiananmen Square, the Charlie Hebdo attack, the Russian Revolution(s), and many elements from ancient Roman history. The only thing that matters to me is telling a good story. No dudes were harmed in the writing of my stories. I write to entertain. If I do my job well, readers are entertained. That’s it.

    The whole power balance/imbalance of a writer to the subject matter is nothing more than political faecal matter. Injecting current politics into your writing is almost always dumb. Foolishly having fantasy races gripe about sexism, minority representation, and nonbinary issues without context tends to distract from the story. You *can* have political themes in your story- and I’ve seen it done well- but it works a lot better if you drop the jargon and fit it into the story.

    Best case is avoid it entirely. If you *have* to put politics into your story, then it behooves one to do it well. Which, now that I think about it, all goes back to telling a good story. So write political themes in if you want to. Just make sure its a good story, and all will be well.

    As for the ethical question of “should I write this at all,” well, that answer is generally going to be “yes” unless one is already independently wealthy. Or doesn’t have the writing bug. The reasons not to are all dumb ones. Ignore them. Write the damned stories. Get better at writing. Repeat until dead. Remember to eat and sleep, socialize with friends, go to museums and pet the cat if you see it out and about. Entertain the readers. You get more of ‘em that way.

    1. I was thinking (yes dangerous) and there’s one writer that I’ve enjoyed who “includes a message in his stories”.

      That’s Tom Kratman and he’ll admit to “including a message” (and admits to wanting Lefty Heads To Explode).

      However, he also writes his stories in a way that readers will enjoy the stories. IE His message doesn’t over-ride the enjoyable part of his stories.

      Of course, if you’re a Lefty, you might not enjoy his stories but Tom Kratman isn’t writing them for Lefties. 😈

      1. *grin* Well put! I was thinking the same. I see sometimes Eric Flint has a bit of politics in his, and Larry Correia definitely does as well. S M Stirling in the Dies the Fire series does, too, as does David Weber in Honor Harrington and Safehold. Of course there is classic SF with politics in it. Heinlein, LeGuin, and so on. Kratman is quite clear in his stance on politics, and unapologetic about it.

        That’s why I stuck to “write a good story,” because good story can excuse a lot of ills. An entertained reader will gloss over a few stumbles here and there, if they occur. Case in point, the new writer I was reviewing the other day. Isikei/LitRPG genre, high fantasy setting, and he’s got this one character: an immortal Reaper who has been drawn into the mortal world. She doesn’t get things like modesty at first. Is distrustful of eating and drinking, so initially decides she won’t do these things. Mortified by what happens a few hours after you eat or drink. In other words, a largely clueless babe to the mortal world.

        In the third book (second after she appears in the story, so she’s had at best a few weeks to a month as a mortal) her response to checking an injured man first before his wife is “sexism.” Note that at this point the PoV characters are in a survival situation, close to the bone and at one point down to only four days of food left- which somehow terrifies no one.

        He makes several small newbie mistakes here and there WRT flow and consistency, but it is by and large a good story. The politics thing looks like it was tacked on after the fact. It isn’t present in the first book at all, maybe one or two things in the second, but shows up several times in the third. Reads as edit suggestions tacked on after the fact, because they are not woven into the story *at all.* Clumsy work, but the core story is good enough to finish the book.

        You can work real sexism into a story, and have racism with fantasy races, et cetera. You can even write good fiction with that stuff in it. Correia’s SotBS series has a rigid caste system, and it works *well* in the story. Kratman uses analogues of current and historical nations, culture, and technology like a master in the Carerra series, which I very much enjoy. More writers could stand to learn from him, David Weber, Eric Flint, and the rest. I will cry no tears if my TBR pile grows to ginormous heights because more good stories are written…

        1. I’m still trying to refine the idea of the ideological Mary Sue.

          That’s when a writer inserts their politics (or religion or other pet cause or ideology) into a story but in a way that is overwhelmingly protective of it. As an example, both Sarah and Mike Williamson have libertarian societies in books that they’ve written but neither wrote a libertarian Mary Sue.

          I think that most of the time what triggers the “UGH! There are politics in my story!” reactions isn’t when there are politics in the story but when the author is protecting those politics, showing them as obviously the best ones, and making sure the reader has no choice but to think favorably of their precious ideological child.

          1. That’s a good point. Plot armor tends to get people’s attention, and not in a good way. Dostoevsky would throw up the strongest arguments he could muster in the mouths of his leading characters, even the more villainous ones, and it made for some compelling reading (even if it wasn’t quite my taste, style wise). An ideology with no flaws allowed is just as bad as a protagonist with no flaws- it makes for boring reading. And boring the reader is cardinal sin no. 1. I put it even before getting the technical details wrong, because I know a guy that put a manual safety on a Glock and he wrote a cracking good story regardless…

        2. Don’t forget John Ringo. I’d call ‘The Last Centurion’ about 50% politics — but most of the story is DRIVEN by the politics. Strip out the politics and the story falls apart.

          Lots of politics in ‘Under A Graveyard Sky’ and again, inextricably woven into the story.

          ‘Ghost’, ‘Kildar’ etc. are probably 30% politics and 20% S & M.

          Politics in the Posleen series? Well, yeah.

          ‘March Upcountry’ ‘Monster Hunter Memoirs’ ‘Live Free Or Die’ … has John Ringo ever written a NON-political book?

          You can tell I’m put right off by all the politics in John’s books. Never read a one. 😀

        1. Ah, but Tom wants Lefty Heads to explode Because of his message. 😆

  18. Sometimes it’s better if the author doesn’t tell the reader about their investment in the story. Patricia Keneally- Morrison put a furious anti-Christian rant in an afterword to her last novel. So far as I know, she’s had exactly one short story published since. And that was almost an apology piece.
    (Would the anti- Christian rant upset the publisher? I don’t know. But my bet is her sales figures fell right through the floor).

    1. “The Deer’s Cry?” It’s the only one of her Keltiad books I have no memory of. I read it, I know, but I can’t tell you a thing about it.

      According to Wikipedia, she’s been indie-pubbing some mysteries.

      1. Yes. I started to buy it, read the afterword and put it back on the shelf. Brave, honest and devout Celtic pagans follow their leader into space to escape Christian persecution (St. Patrick, of course, is the villain). They do take a small group of “good,” Christians with them, but the Christians are apparently good because they live in their completely separate, segregated community and make no effort to proselytize.
        It was a good series despite the occasional dig at Christians.

        1. She kinda ran out of steam when the Morrison books came out. I hope she has grown out of the creepy dude.

          She was, btw, much too good for a narcissist like Morrison; and you are supposed to be horrified when you find out that all the other girlfriends look exactly like you — or rather, that you are the latecomers, and look like them.

  19. For my sins, I understand exactly how she got to where she got to.

    The power relationship remark clinches the deal. Critical theory, right? Every part of life is understood as power relationships. And thus every action, every choice, is also part of power relationships. The need to have even a second thought about “why do I want to write this” beyond “seemed like a good idea at the time” is because everything must be evaluated to determine how it relates to power relationships.

    For people living her same paradigm, her advice even makes sense. Why? Because anything they decide to write will probably be motivated by this central tenet, they intend to do good in the world, they intend to slay power relationship dragons. They are pursuing justice. And frankly, people who write this way DO often screw up. People who write this way DO seem prone to stumble weirdly into thoughtless do-gooder-ism. The first thing, right, the first thing is that I try to think of the most pathetic and downtrodden people possible to champion. Then I write a story to raise awareness of the power imbalance that makes them all so downtrodden and pathetic.

    What do you suppose happens next?

  20. I took the trouble to look her up.

    It will surprise nobody to learn that she’s a teacher researching “decolonisation, social justice, equality and representation(s)”. This semester she’s teaching creative writing: look at the last class’s projects if you dare.

    I’m not sure how one teaches creative writing by discouraging the pupils. I guess there’s a market for literary dominatrices.
    Or perhaps she’s trying to drum up business: “You shouldn’t try to write without taking my course.”

    1. Obviously, the way to teach Creative Writing is to stamp out all traces of creativity. It takes a LOT of education to reach that level of progressiveness. 😛

  21. > It’s a bad idea for the president to schtup the internet.

    I can’t decide if it’s a autocorrected Clinton reference.. or an inadvertent Trump one! 😀

    Also . . this is another exhibit in the long line of ‘this is why our modern entertainment is utter garbage’ — this is exactly the kind of thinking that has been promoted / taught for a generation+ now.

    1. It was an autocorrected Clinton reference. I don’t think Trump Schtuped the internet. He gave as good as he got, which trust me, I KNOW this, means “Why are you so mean?” “Why are you angry?”

  22. Look carefully at what this woman’s doing. She is doing her level best to discourage people from writing. Why? Because she thinks that reducing the potential competition is a way to get more book sales.

    So much of this woke stuff is people in precarious economic positions trying to stand out from the crowd and eliminate rivals rather than a sincere but misguided concern for justice that it’s not even funny.

    1. I’d be surprised if she considers book sales at all. That’s what college professorships are for.

      You know, it occurs to me that a certain sort of Christianity over the years has interpreted popularity (high sales, lots of money) as evidence of satanic influence. Something very popular takes attention away from God. Falling in with it is conforming to the world. I see a parallel here.

      The “precarious economic position” is a mark of moral status most of the time (and in a just world there would be socialism and that virtue would be rewarded by having your needs met, right?) so I don’t think that competition for book sales is very much of an element. Social capital is far far more important and a position of authority over the process of other people creating worthy art simply has to be more important than book sales. Maybe on a subconscious level? But I doubt that, too.

      1. Ah, the poet starving in his/her/its/whatever garret because the World fails to appreciate a True Artist! Rather than getting out there, finding out what stuff people like, and writing bawdy ballads for broadsheets (that pay cash) and then composing “High Art for True Acolytes of Beauty” after the bills are paid.

        1. “If you belonged to the world, the world would love its own; but because you do not belong to the world, and I have chosen you out of the world, the world hates you.”

          So the Christian argument at least has some backing.

  23. So, I’ll say Question #1 is a useful question. It is good for the WRITER to know why. Even it that why is as Odd as “I gotta get this blasted story out of my head.”

    From there, it goes downhill, as in off a cliff. Bravo Sarah for treating the balance with all the respect it deserves.

  24. These questions could actually be relevant for stories about real events. Detraction and betrayal of confidence aren’t ethical, even though they do involve telling the truth. And if someone was a witness to certain events, but doesn’t understand the context of those events as the participants did, that witness probably isn’t the right person to tell the story of those events.

    But for fiction – ha. Anyone who can think these questions make sense for fiction doesn’t understand what fiction is or why people enjoy it. By writing this Sunny Singh revealed that she has no imagination or creativity, and can conceive of language as, at best, a tool to inform a listener; she knows nothing of narrative as an art. I’ll bet she can’t read poetry, either. For her to advise creative writers is like the blind leading the sighted.

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