Tuesday 31st January 2017
Today I spent a lot of time arguing politics on the internet.
I’ll be honest that I’ve never been a very political person. I think that comes from growing up pretty privileged. I used to subscribe to the notion to never talk politics or religion but changed my opinion probably in my mid-20s when I felt that a lot of the problems I was starting to see in the world were caused by fear of the unknown. I remember as a child going to a railway with my parents where they had a St Trinians day on with a load of blokes dressed as St Trinian’s girls. My parents took my picture with one and whilst nothing untoward happened, I felt uncomfortable enough that for 10-20 years afterwards I felt uneasy about transsexuals. I’m not sure whether I was prejudiced or not against them but I’m willing to accept that in some small ways I probably was.
Today, I have some truly awesome transgender friends and I’m very vocal when people around me are transphobic.
The point is that some people can grow up and change, their prejudice born of ignorance rather than hate. Now those people who do advocate hate or violence towards minorities are not worth my time. They get deleted or blocked on social media. But lately I’ve been seeing the impact of normalising behaviour. I’ve seen people get brave, test the water with posts that are ‘slightly’ prejudice (I know – easy for me to label it that from my position of privilege), and whilst part of me wants to call them a “fucking idiot” I don’t think that’s going to accomplish anything other than push them further away. So I engage, if only to show them that there are people who don’t hold those views and maybe consider their own position. It’s my pushback and I get that others might handle it different.
As a writer I like hearing a wide range of views. I have friends from all over the political spectrum and I like getting a range of views. There’s a lot of hysteria on both sides so I like to make my mind up for myself. It’s also interesting for me as a writer to see different viewpoints. I have friends who voted for Brexit or voted for Trump and whilst both of those go against my own beliefs, it’s interesting for me to sometimes understand their logic, even if I disagree with it.
People often ask why writers are so political and the answer, I think, is that they can’t help but be, even if it’s not overt. At the end of the day, even if we are writing alien worlds, we’re essentially always writing about humanity. I people watch a lot, either in person or online in social media.
Black as Knight was originally going to have a female protagonist but the anti-LGBT atrocities in Russia convinced me of the need to write a LGBT protagonist. It also worked better with the themes of identity in that book. I’ve always said that I didn’t want it to be a LGBT book so much as a fantasy novel with an LGBT character, but I can see how for some people (i.e. people who’ve maybe not grown up on their views on the LGBT community) it’s going to be seen as a very political book (because they see LGBT rights as a political issue rather than a social one).
History is going to be the judge of us all. I fully accept that views I hold now maybe considered unacceptable 100 years in the future. I hope so, because that will mean we will have made progress as a civilisation. All I can do is try and live as honestly as possible and constantly try and grow as an individual. However, I do consider myself to be on the right side of history because compassion over fear will always win eventually. Even if my views in 100 years are considered wrong, I hope that people see that my intent was pure.
I’ve seen loads of writers say just how hard it is to write at the moment with everything that is happening in the world. I’ve felt it myself, but I think the only thing we can do as writers is write, even if the goal is just to provide people some entertainment to give people a break from thinking about the crap that is going on in the world.
This might seem a bit heavy-going for The Climb, but I want to capture where my thoughts are at, even if the following day I disagree or want to refine my thinking or explanation.
Politics has so dominated my mind today that I ended up watching Iron Man 3 again. Actually, there was an ulterior motive. This draft I’m working on has an element of PTSD in it as a bit of a subplot. But I’m not sure how to include it as part of character development without every action scene turning into some anxiety attack. So I’ve been watching Iron Man 3 to see how heavily they handle the situation. I felt it got brushed aside a little as the movie progressed, but it gave me some good ideas of what I should do.
I then got a lot of writing in. This was another chapter that’s part rewrite and part edit. I’ll be honest and say I currently hate it, even in its edited / rewritten form. In the past I would have been tempted to stop and redo it from scratch… but rewriting has taught me that I can fix these problems later so I’m just going to work on it to get the main ideas, and then in the next draft probably totally rewrite it.
The good news is that with that and a rough draft of an article I need to continue to work on, I’m looking at 30,000 words for the month. This is double-good when you consider that I’ve only been capturing wordcount for the last 10 days. It’s probably closer to twice that given the partial draft is at 70,000 words ad I’m a chapter away from covering everything in that’s already been written.
Obviously editing existing chapters makes it a lot easier in some ways, but it’s harder in others. I hope that I’ll be close to finishing this draft by early March all going well. With any luck I’ll have done any necessary rewrites / edits on Black as Knight by then, so perhaps I need to start thinking of another little project to do for around Easter.
If you want to follow more of my journey, then be sure to check me on my social channels. Likewise, if you’d like me to expand on any point mentioned above, please say so in the comments.