Perils of the Writer: Writing and Politics

I don’t know if you’ve really noticed this, but I tend not to talk about my political leans here on this blog.  It’s not that I don’t have them, but I don’t bring them up here.  Because I want you, dear readers, to think of me as a sci-fi/fantasy writer, not a writer.

Here’s the thing: I don’t talk about my personal politics here because it really doesn’t reflect on what I write.  Even Way of the Shield, easily my most “political” work, doesn’t necessarily reflect any specific political view as “right” or “wrong”.  In fact, if any eventual reader does take a specific political message from it, that’s more a reflection of their read than my intent.  But if they find something, great.  Subtext is best when it’s unintentional.

But some writers aren’t like that.  Some wear their politics right on their sleeves, especially in their work.  And that can be great.  Or it can be horrible.*  But I’m kind of the opinion, if you want to write that sort of thing, that’s what opinion columns in the newspaper are for.  As fiction, it tends to be uninteresting. 

And some wear their politics so proudly, it becomes their public persona.  That’s your right, of course, but Freedom of Speech only prevents the government from shutting you up.  It doesn’t stop people from thinking you’re a jerk.

This is relevant right now, because there’s some political scuffling going on over at SFWA.  I’m not a member yet, but I hope to be some time soon.  However: for all intents, lines have been drawn, and people have chosen their side, and squabbling has been going on.  

Without pointing fingers or getting into too many details, here’s two things that have stood out to me:

1. I’ve noticed that the kind of people who are complaining that SFWA is “getting too political” and “politics shouldn’t enter into it” are the very same people who can’t seem to make a blog post or Facebook entry without being highly political, including actively attacking people who don’t have the same politics. 

2. People who complain about having to be “politically correct” tend to be people who want to be jerks.  Let me tell you a secret about “political correctness”.  Do you know what it really is?  It’s not calling people something they don’t want to be called.  That’s it.  If doing that is something you’ve got a real problem with, then you should take a look at yourself and decide what kind of person you want to be.  If the answer is, “I want to be a jerk and piss people off”, then fine. Own that shit.  But also own the consequences.  Don’t act like you can be that guy and also be surprised that you generate some ire for it.

So that’s my main thing: talk the smack, if that’s you want to do.  But don’t be surprised if it smacks you back. 

*- For the record, I’ve read fiction on both sides of the political spectrum that I’ve found eye-rollingly absurd.