Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Graphite Ammunition in a 2-gauge Ticonderoga

"If voting/writing/etc. did anything, it would be illegal."

If being cynical required doing anything, it would be less popular.

The first thing autocrats attack are the artists. They wouldn't waste their time if the artists weren't dangerous. We've seen it before, and we're seeing it again. Pussy Riot imprisoned. 3 AM tweets from you-know-who. Woody Guthrie wrote "This Machine Kills Fascists" on his guitar not because he swung his axe like Mjolnir, but because the songs and the music reached people in ways politicians and journalists didn't.

*also works on communists
Now of course you can kill a fascist (or anyone, really) with a nicely sharpened pencil if you ice pick them in the eye socket good and deep, or reverse grip it and go for the soft part of the throat. But it's the words that really get to them.

I write this today because of the great wailing I hear from writers on social media. What are we to do? Write. Write about the world you want to see. Give us living villains who embody what you fear and despise. Give your protagonist difficult choices that pit their principles against their comfortable lives. Do what fiction does best, and plumb the hearts of characters only you can write. No matter what your beliefs, challenge yourself to write the opponents you can't possibly reason with as real, whole people who think they are fighting for good. Don't take the easy road and make them deluded dupes, "sheeple," or useful idiots. That's your own fear clouding your empathy. You don't have to make them misguided. They can be ignorant, selfish, unaware of their deep biases, no matter what side of the road they are on.

Put your anger, hopelessness, and fear into your writing. You are not alone in feeling this way. There are readers waiting for stories that will give them hope, and some who want to confirm that not only is dystopia is inevitable, but that it's what we deserve. So there's room for your most optimistic and cynical stories. But most of all, when people are afraid and uncertain, they want to be entertained.

And that's our job.

Deflating totalitarian blowhards is just a side effect.

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