To Write — All Writing is Political

The following is an excerpt from the essay To Write on The James Franco Review.

The site does not appear to allow reblogging, or we would have.

But to show up is a political act. To write is a political act. To question is a political act. If I have found no other answers, I have those certainties, and it is that which grounds me as a writer and editor. The great myth of this country has been that there has been one static, unassailable narrative, one righteous and unbending truth. I now know that as artists, we destabilize that. We ask questions, of others and of ourselves. We create opportunities for others to ask questions. We tell different stories—some overtly political, others less so, many intensely personal—and insist on their inherent value. We show that not only are our voices rightfully part of the narrative of America—we are the narrative, in all of our bewildered, enraged, tragic, hilarious, glorious, divergent truths.

Karissa Chen is the author of the chapbook OF BIRDS AND LOVERS (Corgi Snorkel Press 2013).

It’s an excellent essay, whether or not you are consciously aware of the political subtext in your own writing, or in writing generally.

The author of Fifty Shade of Grey was probably not consciously aware of the political subtext of her “adaptation” her own Twilight fanfiction, or even of Twilight itself, yet the book is overtly anti-feminist, a blatant endorsement of income inequality and classism,  and, ironically, an indictment of BDSM, which it ostensibly celebrates — depicting it as dangerous, emotionally manipulative, and as a means of gaining complete control over another human being (in true BDSM, the submissive is always the party in control in the relationship. When this isn’t the case, it isn’t BDSM but sadistic abuse).

The history of Fifty Shades of Grey from Twilight fanfic to international bestseller is pretty amusing if you are interested.

An even more amusing fanfic to bestseller saga is that of the Young Adult series, Mortal Instruments, intrigue and plagiarism and a homoerotic relationship between Malfoy and Harry.

You really can’t ask for more than that.

The difference between writers who are consciously aware of the fact that what they write is political and those who are not, might simply be a function of whether or not they are readers who require verisimilitude in their fiction (regardless of genre and setting).