Looking across the landscape of writers I interact with on a regular basis, the one constant I come across is a lack of bravery. Whether it be in person, Twitter, or Facebook – I see a deep concern for how their pieces will be received by the audience. It doesn’t matter how well-known they are, the depth of this concern maintains a hum in their bloodstream. I don’t fault them for it, for I suffer from the same conscious thoughts that wait to steal my confidence. I am, at my core, an entertainer, and thus I want anyone who experiences my work to enjoy it, but that means I have to be brave enough to create without limits.
The culture we currently exist in has evolved to be more open and accepting of certain paths which decades ago would never have been accepted in the open. I believe this is a good thing. People are as diverse as the blades of grass in a field, and should have the right to live their own lives outside the callousness of someone else’s projected morality, provided certain truths are understood.
We cannot sink to the point of anarchy – no matter what the flannel wearing teenager inside you might say. We cannot allow the subjugation and harm of children in anyway, including those who would do mental or social damage to them. Children are a gift and exist as an extension of their parent’s legacy. Our social interconnectivity has given way to a massive amount of hateful speech, which is damaging our culture and creating vast swaths of online trolls. If someone has the right to say something you disagree -even despise- then you cannot keep them from saying it if you want your right to do the same protected.
You have the right to speak – and risk being shunned and called an asshole at the same time. There are many political and religious people who I vehemently disagree with, but I will defend their right to say those things.
I ran into this months ago when I spoke with a group of people online, during a discussion of what authors had the right to write about. I do not identify directly with the culture I’m writing about, and there was concern over how I would portray them. The conversation turned to how could I write about something I know nothing about, then one voice said that I should omit them from the novel out of concern I might do damage with my portrayal.
This is when I had to remind them that I would write whatever the hell I wanted to, no matter what they thought. I want any author or entertainer to remember we must exercise our right to express ourselves freely – especially now. I refuse to omit any character based on race, culture, sexual orientation, religious belief, or political affiliation. Being a writer means being brave and writing the truth you feel inside your heart. It’s a canned passion we open up for the world to see – so damn the consequences – and be yourself.
Being brave means risking everything, including your potential future, to be true to the piece you’re working on. Our world needs brave artists now more than ever to speak out and speak up. Stop coddling yourself and clutching your pearls when it comes to offending people, because someone somewhere is going to feel offended anyway.
Addendum: I’m still deeply concerned about our lack of vision as a country, so I’m going to offer one potential future in this new book. Creating the timeline alone has been exhausting, because I desire a certain level of detail. I trust that people will appreciate it. Mother’s Day is next week so don’t forget your mom and all she did for you. After all, you are her most important legacy.