I was struck by the recent brouhaha over J. K. Rowling’s comments about transsexuality and female identity. I won’t repeat all the details here, but those who didn’t follow the controversy can find the details in these articles:
Posts by Peter Grant
An increasing number of authors have complained that “politically incorrect” books face added obstacles to be approved for publication on Amazon.com. So far that’s been a relative trickle: but last week something ugly happened. Margaret Ball has already raised concerns about it here, but it goes further than that.
I’ve been battling with depression and negativity about my writing lately. Since my heart attack last November, the medication I was put on has been reacting with/to the other meds I’ve been on for years, to help me cope with the permanent pain of a disabling injury back in 2004. The combination has made it extraordinarily difficult to think and write creatively this year. Non-fiction isn’t a problem: I can continue my blog output (I try for 3 articles every day), and I’m working on a non-fiction book. However, the process of fiction writing, where I have to make up scenes and scenarios and characters . . . that’s another story. I’m assured by my doctors that as soon as I get off the post-heart-attack blood-thinner, I’ll get my creative mojo back. However, it sure doesn’t feel that way sometimes!
Over the past week, two articles have illustrated how one social media behemoth is doing its best to rewrite the definition of free speech and force conformity upon everyone – writers, creators, audience and all. It’s a direct and immediate threat to authors, too, because much of our intended audience is part of the Facebook ecosystem. If we’re targeted by, or banned from, that ecosystem, it can have very serious consequences for our ability to promote our work – much less make a living from it.
I’d like to use this morning’s article to ask you, fellow writers and readers, to share the tips, techniques and aids that help you write. For example, I know many of us (Sarah, Kate, Dorothy and I) have feline assistants, as Breaking Cat News so aptly portrayed earlier this week (click the image below to be taken to a full-size version at the comic’s Web site).
I was very interested to read how bookstores are coping with the challenges of a coronavirus-hit economy. The BBC writes about “How bookshops are helping with isolation“. I’m going to quote from their article at some length, to illustrate how innovation and enthusiasm can compensate for other problems.
Several articles and reports caught my eye over the past couple of weeks. I thought you might find them interesting, too.
First, the BBC has a fascinating video report on ancient libraries in a town in the Sahara Desert.
The ancient African town of Chinguetti was once a stopover for trade caravans and pilgrims in the Sahara Desert.
As many of the people passing through were rich and educated, libraries started opening along the route to allow visitors to read and write.
Today the remaining libraries are fighting to preserve these ancient books in the hostile desert climate.
I can’t embed the video, but you’ll find it at the link. It makes interesting viewing.
We all remember what’s happened in the overall publishing market, and in science fiction and fantasy in particular, over the past couple of decades. Political correctness, “woke” thinking, and intolerance have come to dominate traditional markets for authors. Fortunately, independent publishing has become a viable alternative, offering a platform that isn’t dependent on one’s views on anything in particular.
However, there’s a wider issue, and that is the society within which and for which we are writing. We need to take into account that our society is changing, and probably not for the better. How are we going to adjust to this in the way we write, and perhaps in our content? Is it even necessary to do so? For some of us, it probably isn’t; for others, it certainly will be.
On several occasions during my various and sundry careers, I’ve heard a well-known legal maxim. It’s said to be advice given to lawyers during their education. It goes something like this:
- If the facts are against you, argue the law.
- If the law is against you, argue the facts.
- If the facts and the law are against you, assassinate the character of the witness (or “scream and shout”, or “appeal to the jury’s emotions”, or whatever).
I’ve seen that applied on more than a few occasions, in many and varied circumstances, so it seems to be borne out by experience.