This time of year, writers who blog tend to lay out their plans for the next twelve months: writing projects, submission goals, directions for their craft, whose work they plan to read, and so on. And so I too am using this time to consider my writing in the coming year. But not, in the way that I have done so before.
In light of the recent US elections, I’m faced with far different writing goals this year. The sort of SF I write and prefer to read—social with a focus on feminist and humanist concerns—is more urgently needed as part of a larger conversation about our culture. That said, do I read more? Absolutely. Do I blog more about this? I should. Do I write more social SF?
There’s where the problem lies for me. Since November, I’ve spent more time writing letters to elected officials, calling out problematic appointments and voicing my opinions on proposed legislation that promises to strip the hard-won rights of fellow citizens. And what I’ve written about to local, state, and national officials is not even a small fraction of what I find appalling among these proposals.
Writing letters takes resources that I would have otherwise used writing fiction and poems. But at present, the letters are more urgent than either of those. So I write more letters, stamp them, and send them on their way.
And yet, I circle around to the stories, the poems. So many writers, readers, publishers, and editors have reminded us lately that we should not stop writing stories that should be told. These stories are needed as part of the narrative that we as a society have constructed about ourselves. We can’t let the overriding story become what those who have power would have it be.
So here’s my writing resolution for 2017: find balance. Write to those in power when I can, but remember the power of story. Quite often, the fiction comes from asking questions about the implications of policy as proposed. For example, what happens if access to birth control is all but blocked? What happens if voting rights are further threatened? What happens if large corporations are allowed to control environmental and labor policies?
Either way, in letters and in stories, I’ll be saying the same thing.