This has been a question I have been thinking about for a while now.
I hope you enjoy this piece, and if you disagree, at least try to understand where I was coming from here.
Awhile back, I told you about the book giveaways for this blog, but I am not going to do that for the time being. Instead, keep an eye out for the book deals that we have for you. These are going to be cheap books that you can buy off of Amazon. I’ll make a more formal post about this once it gets going.
Thanks for reading.
Book – The Prince
Author – Niccolo Machiavelli
This book is excellent and has become such a big piece in politics and how people deal with one another, you are probably best to give it a read through. For less than a meal at some food places, you can get a timeless piece of political literature.
Should Writers Write About Certain Things, like COVID
As the new year begins, and we all talk of resolutions and inevitable changes and how great it is that the miserable, depressing year of 2020 is behind us, a question is posed to writers about it all. This is not a crazy question like some that have been asked on this blog. This is a more sane one, like about writers becoming characters or writers not owning their own words. Don’t worry; you don’t need your tin-foil hats for this one. The question is, “Should a writer talk about COVID in their work? At what point should a writer focus their attention on the virus that shaped the previous dreadful year?” I have mentioned the virus here on a few occasions, but not in every piece that I wrote during the year. It isn’t the only thing on my mind as I go through my day, so I will include it when it is necessary to the piece. This isn’t a COVID site, so if you want updates on that, you should go somewhere else.
I don’t think the question of COVID in a piece is necessarily about COVID. What I mean is that we are asking a different question, then just “Should a writer talk about COVID in their work?” What we are really asking is, “Is a writer obligated to talk about certain things in their pieces?”
Now, you may be saying that the answer is obvious that I should stop writing, and you can leave this site. I’ve taken enough of your time because the answer is as clear as the sky; yes. How can a writer not write about the cruel virus COVID? We have all experienced its havoc and heartache in the past year. Wouldn’t it be natural to write of that in a story? How can a writer exclude it?
If you are so quick to expect every eager author to include someone with a mask in their stories, or something about a vaccine in their pieces, then I ask you to look at the question from a historical perspective, first. But also, sir, can you step back 6 feet? You are kind of close. (I know. I know you are reading this many miles away from me with worn-out roads and old buildings separating us, but I still feel like I need the space. Do you mind?)
What would you make of these scenarios;
Did a writer who lived during World War 2 have to only write of that war?
Did a writer who lived during World War 1 have to only write of that war?
And what of other significant historical events? Like the birth of Christ or the fall of Rome? Did a writer have to write about them as they lived it?
If you say that a writer should write about COVID because of the past year, you should know that there have been writers who didn’t write about what history views as a major event. Are you going to hold that against them? Damn, that is harsh because, at that point, you are not judging the writer on their own words, but the circumstances they were in.
What’s wrong with being a writer in the 1940s and not wanting to talk about Hitler’s War? Or the late 1910’s and not mention the War to End All Wars? Are you really going to say that a writer was terrible because they chose not to talk about events that affected large populations? There is nothing that says that is wrong. I’m sorry, there just isn’t. Is there a stone tablet or an ancient text that describes it mandatory for writers to jock down notes of major events? I don’t know the book, if it does exist.
Also, what of the events of Jesus’ birth and Rome’s fall? They were not held in the same prestige that we view them today, so why should anyone think that writers back then wrote about the events as they happened? It would be unfair to expect a writer at the turn of the first millennium to talk of Jesus since Christianity wasn’t a thing yet, and in the 470s when Rome fell (as we are taught it) since the Eastern part didn’t actually collapse, so how can we hold something against a writer that may not have ever happened to him?
A few things are wrong with assuming a writer should write certain things whenever they decide to put their thoughts to word.
The obvious is that you, as a reader, are pushing your own stories on to the storyteller. You can’t do that. You can criticize the art and make it your own after reading it (which I already spoke about), but don’t tell the writer what to write as they do it. You don’t get to tell the singer what songs to play when you go to a concert. You don’t get to call the plays of the football coach at the game. Although people think that they have the right to voice their opinion during the performance, they don’t. Let the singer sing what songs they want. They are the professional, not you. Let the coach call the plays. He is the coach, not you. And let the writer create the story. They are the writer, not you. If you dislike how another writer wrote an account, then write your own.
I see nothing wrong with writers who lived through major events in history and didn’t want to write about them. I get it. Do readers think that writers have a history book out with each event that they have to go through? “Ok, I talked about Alexander The Great today; tomorrow, I will mention the prophet, Isaiah.” We don’t do that. We write up as many wise words, silly situations, and daring dialogue that we can fit in at our time on our laptop, and then we hope that at the end of the typing, and the editing, somehow the words make somewhat sense, and the readers purchase it. No rule says that you have to write about what everyone is talking about. In fact, some writers may not want to do this on purpose. Since the goal is originality in their works, one may think that the best way to get there is not to write a popular theme or event. Write what no one reads so that you can write something new and inventive. This obviously dismisses the historical events from possible contention with the story. And, as in the case of the birth of Jesus and the fall of Rome, how could you expect a writer alive then, to know that was the event that people remember? Writers are only that; people who write. We aren’t fortune tellers who can predict the future. We aren’t all boiling our bones or asking the magic eight balls about our world’s future happenings so that we can type of them. You know there may have been writers of the past who did write about the popular thing during that year, our COVID if you will, and then what happened? That thing got forgotten in history where nerds like me only mention them on a blog post.
I already know the problem that some of you may have with this take. You’ll think that I am wrong, because of some higher calling or obligation, a writer has to record our history. The writer is worse because he or she chose to write something else rather than that major historical event. If that is you, then you should know that you are not talking about a modern-day writer who focuses on blog posts, alright articles, and never-ending novels. You are talking about a scribe; The people who would record the history of the people of their time. I am talking about Ancient Egypt and stuff like that. We don’t really care much for them today. Sure, if I was using hieroglyphics and talking to you about Ramses 2, then maybe you would have a case of my misplaced rants because back then, my job was clear, record the history. Record the earthquakes, the bronze shortage, and another pyramid that the pharaoh built; not give my take on any of it. The writer, the man with the pen (which is now a laptop, I guess), has changed, like that friend you haven’t seen in years. No longer is the modern writer obligated by any greater purpose of things to write. I am not forced to write about the major events or the significant people. I can write whatever I want, and if I choose to write about those who I like, then that is still up to me. Writers are more worried about making shit up for their character-driven, repeated plot stories than they are with recording any sort of records for the future. Sorry, readers, the average writer isn’t interested in bettering our society by producing works around our major milestones. We’d rather have small trolls talk to grand wizards about a special mystical cube that could destroy a world whose name is always really hard to say and is fake anyway.
You can’t have it both ways, readers. On the one hand, you want to read stories to escape from your exasperating life, which requires the writer to not talk about the current world; one the other hand, you want to read of real important events that matter to us all; which requires the writer to talk about the current world. Pick one. Do you want me to make up a story and say that it has nothing to do with our world? Or do you want me to make up a story that has everything to do with our world? It feels like readers jump back and forth here. Just don’t hold it against me when I decide to make up a world when you wanted me to talk of ours.
And if you don’t like a book because it doesn’t reflect what you want to read about, get over it, and try another book. There are plenty of books out there; I’m sure there is one that talks about the historical event you wanted to read since you wanted to read about that more than the writer anyway.
Thanks for reading this.
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