Wednesday, June 17, 2020

Writing The Truth

Marketing experts have cautioned writers to be careful about being too political in writing blogs or in social media posts. The concern is that by stating opinions about social issues we might turn off some of the people who will then decide to never buy one of our books because they disagree with us on a particular issue.

One of my friends, Tim Hallinan, decided after the election of 2016 that he would not hold back. He was so dismayed that somebody as unqualified to be a president as Donald Trump was actually elected, that he, Tim, would speak out when he saw wrongdoing or abuse of power. He knew people would disagree with things he posts on Facebook. He knew that people might decide not to buy his books because of what he posts on Facebook. And Tim has been okay with that.

For a long time I've not heeded the advice of those marketing people either. I want to. I try to. I need to build a readership not drive people away because I say something that sticks in their craw. But I can't help myself. If something is strikingly wrong, I speak out, sticky craw be damned.

I've always been strongly opinionated, never hesitating to voice those opinions vocally or on paper. For years, I wrote a weekly column for the Texas Catholic newspaper, and the editor had given me carte blanche to write whatever I wanted to. Sometimes it was humor, like the column I wrote for The Plano Star Courier, but sometimes I offered commentary on something more serious. Most of the time, the things I wrote about didn't stir great controversy, although there were times, and I've taken that same approach to my blogging.

When I've addressed social issues, especially what's wrong in our government and what's wrong in our society, I know that lots of people have not agreed with me and perhaps I've risked selling a few books because of that. But, as my friend Tim said several years ago, there are more important things in life than selling books.

What about integrity, morality, and ethics?

I firmly believe that we writers have an imperative to write the truth. That's a term related to writing that I've recently started to focus on as I write my memoir. I'm taking an online class to help me with the writing of said memoir, and the instructor keeps repeating, "Write the truth."

 Not just facts, but the truth inherent in those facts. 

Writers, think about how much truth you can spread if you forget to worry about how that will affect book sales. Do you have a blog? On that blog, can you share thoughts, ideas, truths, that relate to a social issue. On social media, can you respond in truth to all the threads being shared about systemic racism and police brutality? If someone you know posts facts that are wrong, do you have the courage to call that person out and share the truth?

Tim Hallinan is not the only well-known author to speak out. Alumni of the Sun Vallley Writers Conference such as Mitch Albom, Elliot Ackerman, David Brooks, and  Bryan Stevenson have all written op-ed pieces since the murder of George Floyd, and I'm sure there are many others.

While I'm not on the popularity level as those other writers, I do believe my voice counts, and I blog often about racism, as well as other social injustices. In a recent post I shared my thoughts, opinions, and some facts about racism following the murder of George Floyd. In that blog post, I also admitted that when it comes to understanding the truth of what it means to be black I fall horribly short.

I also made a promise to myself to do better.


Posted by Maryann Miller  who is still maintaining social distancing. You can find out more about Maryann, her books, and her editing services on her Website and her Amazon Author Page, read her Blogand follow her on Facebook and TwitterHer online workshop on self-editing, part of a series of online writing workshops from Short And Helpful, can be found HERE

8 comments :

  1. I'm with all those who speak out. I do, and like you and Tim and the others, I don't care if someone won't read my books because of my positions. I also think more people MIGHT read my books because of my positions.

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    1. Sometimes I do think that there are folks who will be drawn to our books because of what we post on social media. At least I hope so. :-)

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  2. When confronted with social ills (and worse), I typically address them in my stories. All my books contain at least one soapbox, and my characters so far are Black, Native American, Oriental, and Caucasian. I do better writing this way, probably because I respond better to seeing truths I need to consider when they appear between characters in a fictional (but very realistic) format.

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    1. That's an interesting approach, Linda, to consider the truths when they appear in fiction. Thanks for sharing.

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  3. The problem with trying to write the truth is that we rarely know what the truth is unless we can hear or see an event or situation firsthand. Relying on any politician or any media source for the truth is a terrible mistake. I don't post about political or social issues on social media or my blog because I "know" I rarely know the truth

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    1. I think for me the "truth" right now is in broader terms than just what happened, or what some media person said happened. I'm trying to find the deep meaning of systemic racism by checking historical documents and studies. and how it has been fostered.

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  4. I really, really tried to limit my posting to books, writing, and peace on earth but then 2016 happened and morphed into 2020 and I just can't stay quiet. If we go the way of Nazi Germany at least I can say I spoke out and voted against it.

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    1. I agree, Diana. As extreme as that seems, one of the reasons that horrible part of history happened was because people didn't speak out. "Don't rock the boat. Don't risk our standing in society. Don't risk being killed ourselves." The uncertainty of where our society is headed is alarming and distressing.

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