to be or not to be who you are

Over at Stephen's we've been talking about the wisdom of writers baring their soul on the Internet. It's an interesting thought, because you take someone like Orson Scott Card, a Latter Day Saint who is very vocal about his views (not all of which I disagree with), there's no question it's hit him in the pocketbook. I've read forwards to his book which are basically rebuttals to his anti-fans.

I take a pretty pragmatic view of these things. First of all, we writers are foremost entertainers. If someone is so tight with their views that they're going to take my personal views into account on whether my book is for them, then their loss. And they're right, they probably wouldn't like it anyway.

Let's pull out the Gay card, shall we? I don't make it a secret, though I don't often spout out about it (contrary to how it may appear on Stephen's blog since it's come up so often over there) that I think gays should be afforded every entitlement under the law to relationships, sex, wills, parenthood, and marriage that heteros are. The first story I ever sold featured gay protags. My series pushes the bar of what's considered "normal" relationships between men. I'm considering writing a protag with repressed homosexuality for my next book. Some of this is because I have gay friends and relatives, and I think gays need more heterosexual, mainstream voices speaking on their behalf. A lot of it is because two guys are more fun than one.

If you read through every post and comment I've ever put out there, I think you'd find mentions of my own experiences with the other team--not in any detail, mind you! (before you go running off to Google). Just that they exist. It's crossed my mind that I should keep quiet about this in order to secure an agent and publisher.

But hell. I'm not running for Congress. I write books to give someone a few fun hours. If someone is so adamant against my views that I shouldn't say what I think before I'm even a public figure, then that would have to be their choice not to buy.

Frankly, I must write what I think, what I believe, is right. I'm not turning my fiction into a "statement;" that just means I can't throw the "dumb-down" switch. I have no internal editor saying: "Oops, too far this time, Sex. Reel it back, or no one will buy it." I've been through this before with violence. One of my stories is having a tough time selling because of the violence in it. Editors love the story--I have a stack of positive, personal rejections--just that they can't/won't feature such violence.

I could take out the violence. I could.

But my internal editor says: "It's a war story. War is violent. Duh."

Really, I have a rock star sensibility, and that may not be a bad thing to have. I can be articulate as hell; I also can swear like a sailor and do frequently. I have my political, personal, and social beliefs and they inform my writing. Where would Rise Against be without their political songs? Where would Sum 41 be if they hadn't been caught in war-torn Congo and named their album CHUCK?* That album sold millions and professed extreme political and social views. And I'd hardly be the first author or rock star to confess gay experiences, a slight slant to bisexual nature, and support for the gay cause.

Still, I know not everyone agrees with my views. But I certainly can't and won't change them for the sake of my books. I'm pretty sure that's called "selling out." Naive as it may be, I still believe those in the public eye have a responsibility to be not who we want them to be, but who they are.

*via Wikipedia: In late May of 2004, the band travelled to the Democratic Republic of Congo along with War Child Canada, a branch of the British charity organization, to document the civil war occurring in the country.[7] Days after arriving, fighting broke out near the hotel the band was staying at in Bukavu.[8] The band waited for the firing to die down, but it never did. A U.N. peacekeeper, Charles "Chuck" Pelletier (also Canadian), called for armored carriers to take the hotel's occupants out of the hot zone. After nearly six hours, the carriers arrived, and the band and the forty other civilians were taken to safety. The band named their next album Chuck in honour of Pelletier for taking them to safety.

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