The Writer's Responsibility -- A Manifesto11 Jan 2019
I’ve tried to write this post for months. At times, I was too scared to write it. Other times, I was more scared of what would happen if I didn’t. I’m going to touch on topics that are often discussed when talking about media – be it books, movies, TV, video games, etc. But honestly, I don’t think I can add much to these discussions. These topics can also be interpreted as political issues. The last thing I want to do is spark a political flame war in the comments. Yet after much thought, I’ve decided that it’ll be best for everyone if I share where I stand on these things. If only so you’ll better understand where I’m coming from.
What follows is a manifesto of sorts. If you want me to explain or clarify certain points, drop your question down in the comments, and I’ll answer as best I can. Who knows? Your question might inspire a future post. For now, this is my position.
I believe that people have far more in common than they realize. I believe that readers care more about who a character is than what demographic they belong to. I believe that focusing on demographics doesn’t encourage empathy but hinders it.
I believe that a writer’s first responsibility is to remain true to their artistic vision. Tell the story you want to tell. Write about the characters you want to write about.
Work dictated by the current zeitgeist is no longer your own. It’s someone else’s. And it will be forgotten. Yet work written from your perspective, in your voice, will always be yours. Work that touches on universal things will endure.
I don’t believe any single writer can solve the problems surrounding diversity and representation. I believe it’s wrong of readers to expect this of individual writers. The problem is too large and the burden too heavy for any one person to bear.
I also believe that these problems won’t be solved only by those writers currently writing and publishing changing who they write stories about. I believe that solutions must also come from new writers writing stories about people like them. No writer should be ashamed about writing to their defaults, regardless of how often their traits are represented in literature.
I believe that no story is meant to be loved by everyone. Trying to write something that everyone will love is both futile and foolish. Writing is not about creating something that will appeal to an audience. Writing is about finding the audience who finds your work appealing. Once you find them, listen to them. Cherish them. In doing so, you will find fulfillment – a reward for your work.
I’m sure you have opinions on these topics too. Share them in the comments. Just don’t tear other people down in the process. Please and thank you.