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That political stance is, in your opinion, stupid. But should your readers know?

February 26, 2012

The good news is that after approximately 237,142 debates, the Republican candidates for President have decided they’re almost done. The bad news is, once the Republicans decide who they want to run against Obama, the political food fight will be far bigger than Bluto’s food fight from Animal House and the great pie fight from Blazing Saddles combined.

All of which re-begs the question about political statements in your writing. It’s an ongoing question that’s worth revisiting from time to time, as Laura Benedict recently did. Her take?

One could easily come across a hundred hysterical or outrageous items a day that beg to be shared. But should you indulge?

My thought: Not unless broadcasting your political or social opinions is way, way more important than putting food on your table.

That’s been my thought, too. But it’s not ubiquitous. JD “Dusty” Rhoades is a mystery author with a blog that’s decidedly political. He makes no bones about his political stances. In a Facebook exchange, I asked why a reader should spend money on a writer whose views are political antagonistic when there are other writers more tolerant of the reader’s political stances. He responded that if he’d judged authors he’d previously mentioned by their politics, he would have missed some of his favorite books.

Both stances are right. It’s human nature not to give your business to someone you believes doesn’t value your business. My Facebook feed is, by design, public. Anyone can see it, including people in the industry who have Facebook friended me. We aren’t close personal buddies, but they can see what I post online. If I finally complete something publishable, I might want to do business with some of these people. Will they remember my stance on Rick Santorum, contraception, or the Middle East and hold it against me? It’s possible.

For writers, though, the currency of our trade is ideas. Eliminating ideas that disagree with yours isn’t healthy for your craft. It helps you see your opposites as one-dimensional. Holding back on ideas out of a sense of political obligation to those who might disagree probably reduces the quality of your work. If I’m not bold enough to post an opinion or two online, how can the rest of my work be worthwhile? Why would I not water it down out of fear of offending someone?

My personal opinion on politics is best stated by the Grinch, “There’s one thing I hate: the noise, noise, noise, noise.” So there, I’ve said it. And it might be the one political opinion that almost everyone can agree on. In other words, when it comes to my stances on political issues, who’s worthwhile and who’s a waste of attention, that’s not for this venue.

How about you. What’s your approach?

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2 Comments
  1. March 2, 2012 10:36 am

    Most of us are not going to sell a million books. That means we sell mostly Kindle books (a few thsand). Our market is probably a niche market. By definition, a niche market excludes readers, so you might as well state your political opinion.

    My science fiction has a great political following. I can not please everyone, so I might as well write how I really feel.

  2. Chris Hamilton permalink
    March 4, 2012 11:22 am

    It’s really a business decision every writer has to make. If it’s central to your theme, then you sort of have to do it.

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