This might have nothing to do with writing, or it might have everything to do with writing.
Through my travels in real life and online, I am finding that I am politically incorrect.
Now, I’ve always been politically incorrect. I’m sorry, but that’s the way it is.
It all started in high school, although things were bubbling around before that. I’ve always been opinionated, and my opinions are strong. It got me into major trouble in high school, where I wrote for the school newspaper. I tended to pick topics that didn’t sit well with many students and teachers. I once wrote a scathing editorial about the use of millage dollars to improve the athletic department, and hey, where were similar funds for the art department? (There weren’t any.)
The football team and the coach hated me. If looks could kill, I’d have been six feet under long ago. I believe that’s why I got a B in biology that semester. (The coach was also the science teacher.)
Old age has done nothing to temper my opinions or my loud mouth. Even when I wasn’t writing creatively, I was writing letters to the editor. Editors to papers, editors to Cosmopolitan, Crawdaddy and Rolling Stone magazines. I was writing letters to companies that wronged me, to restaurants where the service was substandard, to utility companies and to elected officials. I still do all of that, and with the internet, now I do more.
Of course, I try to be respectful of the other side of issues. My job on earth is to learn, and if I can’t see something the first time (like algebra or violin), I look at it again from another perspective. I care a lot about the city, state and country I live in. I care a lot about our culture. I can’t help not to care as it’s my responsibility as a citizen.
However, I won’t roll over and play dead if we disagree.
Within other realms of my writing, I am finding that perhaps to get published it might be nice if I toned down my opinions. You know, be extraordinarily politically correct.
I had an email exchange with an online editor I work with. He asked me to write an opinion piece on something that happened in the news based on a comment I made to another article. I wanted to, because I have strong opinions but found a part of me didn’t want to attract attention to myself that might be negative. Anything I say or write could be construed as something else entirely. Much as I’m bitchy, in actuality I’m really not negative. Just passionate.
In the end, I wrote the piece (or a variation on what he wanted) because of one rule I have. It is: I must be true to myself. Being true to myself is why I couldn’t continue with journalism for a major in college. To write journalistically would mean I would have to lay aside my feelings, and I can’t do that.
Perhaps if I got a thumbs up for my work despite my beliefs in other areas I could stop looking over my shoulder at the shadow of my personal beliefs.
For creative writing, it’s different. Perhaps when I finish writing the two novels I’m working on now, I’ll feel differently. Editing novels is one thing but editing my soul? It just won’t happen.
Maybe that’s why I might stay a published author wannabe.