Tuesday, January 24, 2017

Should Authors Talk About Politics And Religion?

I've noticed something that has been bothering me for awhile...It's the idea that authors aren't supposed to talk about politics and religion.

In America, it is considered impolite to talk about politics and religion. I guess we're just more emotional about it than other countries, so we can't handle it when these things are discussed and sometimes we become mean to each other when these topics come up.

I keep hearing the words,"It's bad for business" because when authors express opinions, especially controversial ones, they can lose fans. I mean, they also sometimes gain fans by doing this, but the focus is generally on losing fans.

The other thing I've noticed is that all the people having these discussions about whether or not it's appropriate to express your opinions on certain things, whether or not it's an author's place, are all women.

I am friends with many male authors and none of them worry about any of these things. The majority of them are outspoken and opinionated, yet still find readers somehow.

One of the most outspoken authors, for example, is Stephen King. If you don't know his political beliefs on things, you haven't been paying attention. He doesn't write about politics, but he definitely has opinions on them and even on other authors. But no one tells him that he needs to tone it down because it's not his place to speak out on such things.

To top it all off, businesses have actually been outspoken about politics for a long time. We all know Chick-fil-a's stance on being against gay marriage, for instance, and Oreos have made it clear on multiple occasions that they support gay marriage and gay rights. But what do those companies know about marketing, right?

I said this on facebook, but I am going to say it again. As an author, we are selling a unique product. Other people sell physical things like pizza or toys, but authors are selling their VOICE. Our product is our words. So we shouldn't be afraid of our words and the things we have to say.

I'm not saying that you have to be controversial all the time or talk about politics/religion constantly. And I'm not saying you won't receive backlash for having certain opinions.

But if you're afraid of your voice and the things you think or have to say, then what exactly are you writing? This is not a job for people pleasers. It never has been a job where people are all happy with everything that you do. That's why we need editors. That's why we get rejections from publishing companies. That's why we get one-star reviews. You have to be able to handle that as an author, people might not like you or the things you have to say, that they will always have a lot of criticism and critiques of everything that you write.

An author has to be strong and able to still write, even when surrounded by people who disagree with them or dislike the way they view the world. Because that stuff leaks into our books.

And books have the power to change the world. Many have caused wars and emotional revolutions, like the Bible and the Communist Manifesto, for instance. And when it comes to fictional books, books like 1984 and even Fifty Shades Of Grey had a profound effect on people.

So why are you stifling your voice? Why, when you have such a powerful tool at your disposal, are you afraid of it?

It's that old cliche,"The pen is mightier than the sword." Words are powerful, so don't be afraid to use them. You don't have to talk about certain subjects, it's up to you, but if you feel passionate about something, it makes sense to talk about it.

And realize that all those many people who are telling female authors that it's not their place to have opinions on things or speak out because people might not love you, have probably been trying to stifle female voices for a long time. I heard similar things growing up. That if I had too many strong opinions, as a woman, that no man would ever love me.

Don't believe in the threats, believe in your voice.


Cheri Allan said...

Brava! As an author I've struggled with this very issue... and came to the same conclusion. Why on earth would we stifle the very gift we've been given when our voice could add to the conversations this world so badly needs?

M. A. McRae said...

An excellent article.