Keep the Politics Out
Posted by monicamynk
Post seven in the discussion from Richard Bausch’s “Letter to a Young Writer.”
Bausch’s seventh piece of advice could stand alone.
But is it even possible to leave it out entirely? Maybe not, but it’s essential to try. In his elaboration of the point, Bausch cautions against being the writer who pays too much attention to their personal life, and advises using even history as backdrop, if even that. He says:
The person who has it in his mind that he will write to engineer better human beings is a despot before he writes the first line.
This discussion is highly relevant to my current dilemma. I’m in the process of setting up a dystopian society in my WIP. The event that sets it off is a presidential assassination and following secession of several states, who form a new government. The issue?
Well, if I choose the president to be a Republican, I might make my Republican friends upset. If I choose a Democrat, I might alienate those readers. Am I inadvertently trying to say something with my choice? Of course not, but it could certainly come across that way.
I’ve always been one of those people who think political opinions are best kept under the table. I’ve seen more friendships ended over those kinds of discussions than I’d care to admit. Don’t ask me if I voted for Obama or not, because I’ll never tell. At the same time, setting up any kind of society in a story means you have to draw on history and characteristics of currently existing governments.
Someone advised me to write in new political parties altogether, which is a great idea, but even then I’d probably have to face criticism. Readers would inevitably interpret certain actions as “right-wing conservative” or “liberal” even if I didn’t intend them that way.
As a result, in my story, I’ve just called it the ??? party. I’ve researched totalitarian and socialist governments and tried to piece together something original. Hopefully inspiration will come soon.
In the meantime, I’ll defer to John F. Kennedy on this one:
Let us not seek the Republican answer or the Democratic answer, but the right answer. Let us not seek to fix the blame for the past. Let us accept our own responsibility for the future.
That, to me, sounds like a great overarching theme.