Posted on May 9, 2012
If you go to my About page, you will notice that my home state is North Carolina. On Tuesday, May 8, 2012, an amendment passed supporting a definition of marriage which states, “Marriage between a man and a woman is the only domestic legal union that shall be valid or recognized in this State” (NC Senate Bill 106, “Defense of Marriage”). Statements and reactions exploded on the internet from ignorant to informed, from serious to sarcastic, and all other forms of emotions. If you click on the North Carolina hashtag from Twitter, you will see all of that in 140 characters or less.
I admit that this one particular political occurrence affects my own personal feelings, political beliefs, and faith as I’ve considered changing my information to no longer include North Carolina because of my emotions about the outcome. As a writer, I wonder what to do with those emotions, but politics play an important role in many novels like George Orwell‘s 1984, Aldous Huxley‘s Brave New World, Ray Bradbury‘s Fahrenheit 451, and Margaret Atwood‘s The Handmaid’s Tale. We teach these books intentionally to show the connection between real world politics and literature, and also to presumably warn us about the pitfalls of bad politics.
“The Spanish war and other events in 1936-37 turned the scale and thereafter I knew where I stood. Every line of serious work that I have written since 1936 has been written, directly or indirectly, against totalitarianism and for democratic socialism, as I understand it. It seems to me nonsense, in a period like our own, to think that one can avoid writing of such subjects. Everyone writes of them in one guise or another. It is simply a question of which side one takes and what approach one follows. And the more one is conscious of one’s political bias, the more chance one has of acting politically without sacrificing one’s aesthetic and intellectual integrity…” (George Orwell, “Why I Write“)
So what do writers do with their own political feelings and beliefs? From the esteemed list above like Orwell, it seems like sci-fi and fantasy offer a great place in which to place those frustrations. Politics are front and center in Hunger Games, although no one is really talking about how it reflects the same flavor of Big Brother like 1984. We can cheer on the underdog who rebels against the corrupt or oppressive system of government in a sci-fi or fantasy novel, but can we see the analogous relationship to real world politics where some underdog out there needs to hear our cheering? I can’t help but think that the political feelings of a writer or other artist ultimately affect his or her creative invention, and maybe it’s supposed to be that way. Who knows how your work can affect those who interact with it whether it’s listening to your song, reading your poem, seeing your photo, or delving into your novel?
I’m still in the beginning writer stage where I have lots of ideas and nary a one completed. One of my short stories that I think could become a full blown novel involves a lot of my frustrations about political happenings within the past few years. But are passionate emotional reactions enough to maintain focus? The subject and purpose of my writing have changed within the last few days, and I feel like I’m on a different path that’s the right way to channel my disappointment into productiveness. I’m watching more than just Twitter to see what else may come from the current buzzing political climate.