It’s early, and I’m not sure about what yet, but the interwebz will tell me shortly. By then I’ll be caffeinated and capable of summoning up whatever ire is called for. So far the best candidate of the day appears to be Amazon. They are always a popular target. Did you hear how they aren’t going to pay writers if readers don’t finish books? And they’re only going to pay writers by the page?? Outrage! Hate! Boycott! (Unless you read the fine print, and then it’s only the “rental” books and maybe not altogether a bad thing for all writers)
Last week it was Game of Thrones. I didn’t watch the show, but the interwebz told me a) why I should be outraged and b) exactly how outraged I should be. I think there was also something about one of the bachelor shows but I was tired and failed as a human being to follow the thread or summon up the energy.
Other popular topics are various government officials being (surprise!) ass wipes, race relations, Monsanto, pesticides, stray animals who are not properly cared for, dying bees, global warming, bad movies, dolphins, books that are bad, books that people think are bad, the economy, writers behaving badly, reviewers behaving badly…
And, oh, yeah – a bunch of innocent black people getting killed in a church by a white guy who thinks he’s some sort of hero for killing them.
You guys, my outrage meter blew up. I’m angry, I’m sad, and I’m weary of all of the chattering we do online about this, that, and the other thing.
Innocent people died. A privileged asshole killed them. It’s not the first time and let’s face it, it’s not going to be the last time.
Talk doesn’t begin to touch this.
Sometimes hanging out on the interwebz feels a bit like high school drama. We huddle in our little groups, sharing the last juicy bit of news with our allies and blowing it sky high without checking the facts. Our story grows and morphs into something that is no longer quite the truth. The people on our side of the story get angrier and the people on the other side of the story get angrier and after awhile we’re not even talking about the thing that really happened any more. It makes us feel better, though. Righteous anger feels powerful and awesome. Like we’re doing something.
If we stop talking long enough to be with our feelings for a minute, we’ll realize that we are deeply hurt and grieving. That we’re terrified. Or that our anger is big enough and dark enough to be a dangerous force and we don’t know what to do with it and that scares us too. These are not easy emotions and most human beings avoid them. It’s much more comfortable to be outraged, which makes us feel stronger and more powerful and less afraid.
But here’s the thing. We are writers! Writers write about emotions and social problems. There’s a long tradition of this. So I suggest that instead of venting all over the place we grab our courage in both hands, face up to the scary feelings and put our words to use in a way that maybe does give us power.
I’m not suggesting that we all go out and write Weighty Worthy Tomes of Literary Fiction. If you love to write steampunk vampire dinosaur erotica with science fiction elements, by all means carry on with what you love. But maybe give a little thought to the things that scare you, anger you, and hurt you while you’re doing it. Give your characters the opportunity to feel all those feelings, to explore some of the real world conflicts and explore the unanswered questions.
I’d hazard a guess that your writing will be better for it. And maybe, between us all, we can help move the world one fragment closer to being a better place.
Kerry is the queen of the misfit story. She writes fantasy that has its teeth sunk into reality, mystery that delves into the paranormal, and women’s fiction that embraces the dark and twisty realms of humanity.