Never doubt that thoughtful committed citizens can change the world; indeed it is the only thing that ever has.—Margaret Mead
I’ve talked a lot to you guys, over the past four years on this blog, about the choices we all face as writers—especially during these turbulent publishing times.
I’ve researched on all our behalf the truth behind the hype we see on both sides of the traditional publishing and self-publishing fence. I’ve given you the very best I could of my thirty years of experience as a write and editor, a creator of the writing art and a navigator of these changing waters.
When I was just starting out as a writer, I needed helping hands. And now that I’m on the other side of the coin, I’ve done what I could to offer that helping hand to others. Because I believe in the human need for storytelling. I believe, most of all, in the pinnacle of detailed storytelling: great literature.
However, beyond the issue of writing, publishing, crafting art into literature, I have also always reminded you that there is a deeper issue at stake.
That issue is your life.
So I’m going to address here the two choices faced by each of us writers here in the United State of America right now. Because our craft is not separated from our lives. Our art is not something distinct from who we are.
Writing is about humanity.
And we are humanity.
The Art & Craft of Writing
I’ve come to believe with all my heart, throughout my decades as a writer, that we humans have evolved to need storytelling in order to stay sane. Otherwise, we can so easily become overwhelmed by the chaotic world in which we live. It might actually destroy our human will to survive.
Everything we look for in literature is about survival:
how to do it
why it’s worth it
Storytelling all that stands between us and life-destroying despair.
So I’ve kept this blog focused entirely on the art and craft of fiction, of story, even storytelling through memoir.
Of course, I’ve had other stuff going on in my life in the past four years. I have a family, a growing child, a house to build, a piece of property to manage, a mortgage to pay, family and friends, cats who drive me to my very wits’ end.
But I’ve kept all that out of this blog. Because I wanted you to have a safe place to come in which to pursue this writing work that means so much to all of us, knowing the warmth and encouragement and essential information you would find here.
Two weeks ago I broke that rule for one short day: I posted a blog about the upcoming 2012 US Presidential Election.
I had to have a really excellent reason for that.
Our Human Values
And I did.
I had my human values.
Through my work as an independent editor, I’ve met so many innocent, hopeful, aspiring writers struggling to break into their own literary voices, to bring their stories to life, to (gulp!) even reach readers with their dreams and imaginations.
And I’ve had to be the one to give them the news—over and over again, in the kindest way possible—that we cannot hope to become writers while leaving our true selves behind.
no gore or graphic sex scenes if we don’t know how to handle taboo in the written word
no attempting to lie to the reader about who our characters are and what occurs in their stories
no hiding what living truly means to us
And now I find myself (as I so often do) playing the protagonist of my own life, faced with these very questions in writing for you, the reader who comes here trusting me to know what I’m doing.
I can’t ignore the standards of common decency and unity and community that are being broken right this minute in the political arena of my own country, this country whose government has such extraordinary impact upon the rest of the world—a world population of whom only a small percentage has the right of the vote for this powerful government, although they live every day with the consequences of our votes.
It is an incredible right to be an American voter under these conditions.
It is an incredible responsibility.
It is an incredible honor.
And, in determining the future of this massive force in world politics, this vote weighs enormously upon the shoulders of every single American.
I will not attempt to lie to you about who the protagonist of this blog is or what’s occurring in her story, not even by passive omission.
I will not hide from you what living truly means to me.
Please—use your intelligence, your spirit and commitment and dedication, your writer’s curiosity to know the truth, and your love of humanity in living the fullest life you possibly can to educate yourself on this election.
We writers can always erase, and erase, and erase unto infinity whenever we make mistakes.
But there is no going back on having cast a wrong vote.
Americans, do your due diligence.
For the humanity of us all.
MILLLICENT G. DILLON, the world's expert on authors Jane and Paul Bowles, has won five O. Henry Awards and been nominated for the PEN/Faulkner. I worked with Dillon on her memoir, The Absolute Elsewhere, in which she describes in luminous prose her private meeting with Albert Einstein to discuss the ethics of the atomic bomb.
BHAICHAND PATEL, retired after an illustrious career with the United Nations, is now a journalist based out of New Dehli and Bombay, an expert on Bollywood, and author of three non-fiction books published by Penguin. I edited Patel’s debut novel, Mothers, Lovers, and Other Strangers, published by PanMacmillan.
LUCIA ORTH is the author of the debut novel, Baby Jesus Pawn Shop, which received critical acclaim from Publisher’s Weekly, NPR, Booklist, Library Journal and Small Press Reviews. I have edited a number of essays and articles for Orth.
SCOTT WARRENDER is a professional musician and Annie Award-nominated lyricist specializing in musical theater. I work with Warrender regularly on his short stories and debut novel, Putaway.
STUART WAKEFIELD is the #1 Kindle Best Selling author of Body of Water, the first novel in his Orcadian Trilogy. Body of Water was 1 of 10 books long-listed for the Polari First Book Prize. I edited his second novel, Memory of Water and look forward to editing the final novel of his Orcadian Trilogy, Spirit of Water.
ANIA VESENNY is a recipient of the Evelyn Sullivan Gilbertson Award for Emerging Artist in Literature and has been nominated for the Pushcart Prize. I edited Vesenny's debut novel, Swearing in Russian at the Northern Lights.
TERISA GREEN is widely considered the foremost American authority on tattooing through her tattoo books published by Simon & Schuster, which have sold over 45,000 copies. Under the name M. TERRY GREEN, she writes her techno-shaman sci-fi/fantasy series. I am working with her to develop a new speculative fiction series.
CHRIS RYAN drew acclaim from the New Yorker for the hook to his novel Heliophobia. He is the author of poetry collection The Bible of Animal Feet from Farfalla Press. I edited Ryan’s debut novel The Ishmael Blade and worked with him to develop Heliophobia and his work-in-progress Pogue.
JUDY LEE DUNN is an award-winning marketing blogger. I am working with her to develop and edit her memoir of reconciling her liberal activism with her emotional difficulty accepting the lesbianism of her beloved daughter, Tonight Show comedienne Kellye Rowland.
In addition, I work with dozens of aspiring writers in their apprenticeship to this literary art and craft.