Why Persist As A Writer In Times Of Such Heinous Fuckery?

So, ICYMI, in the last 24 hours:

- The GOP voted to confirm DeVos because they were unabashedly paid by DeVos

- The GOP voted to censure and rebuke Senator Warren, thus stopping her from reading the Coretta Scott King letter about Senator Sessions — they voted to silence her unanimously, which means even the so-called “maverick” McCain has fallen right in line at the feeding trough

- On CNN, Ted ‘the President called my wife ugly and said my Daddy killed JFK and I stood up to him by sitting on his lap’ Cruz told a woman with MS, “Congratulations on dealing with MS, it’s a — it’s a terrible disease, and congratulations on your struggles dealing with it.”

- On Twitter, Trump continues — with all the subtlety of a blue whale dropped out of a C-130 onto a school bus — to point the finger at the judicial branch as an enemy in need of a culling.

Soon, the GOP will just unmask themselves, revealing moist vortices of twitching fangs, and they will wantonly eat kittens and babies on live TV. They will outlaw birds and mixtapes and hope before fucking off to their moonbase while the rest of the Earth burns.

So, with this Age of Heinous Fuckery unfolding, I continue to get emails or tweets from writers who are just saying, I can’t do it, I can’t commit words to the page, I can’t muster the feeling that any of this is worth a damn. Especially with education being one of the roots of the American tree that the madmen continue to hack at, why write? Why do it? What’s the fucking point?

On Twitter, I attempted to answer that question, and I’m putting those tweets here for you to read. (You can also just click through to the full Storify post, if that’s easier for you.)

34 comments

  • Thank, Chuck, for reminding me why I “tell stories” – my father used to say I was the best liar. I would make him proud.
    And I agree with the above comment: Joy is its own kind of rebellion.
    I fight my PTSD (President Trump Stress Disorder) by watching the satirical TV shows, from SNL to The Daily Show.
    And the I call and write my representatives and senators.
    I think I have some postcards left…

    • I think I would have offed myself by now if it wasn’t for The Daily Show. Trevor Noah’s really grown into his role there and he’s just the voice of satirical sanity we need. At the end of the day, all you can do is laugh sometimes.

      • I only started watching TDS after the election, and I’ve just found Trevor Noah so soothing. I love Jon Stewart, and his anger and manic energy have oft been a bracing tonic to me, but I do enough screaming on my own these days. Right now I need my snark leavened with optimism, and I think Trevor Noah does a wonderful job of balancing calling America out while also remaining hopeful that we’re all better than this. (John Oliver does this as well; maybe it takes an outsider to put things in perspective.)

  • Why do it? Because making art is the ultimate fuck you.

    Art is the product of your mind, your spirit, your soul, your whatever….that intangible thing inside you that makes you you. Expressing it is the most perfect way of saying no matter how many controls there are on my outside life – the way I earn money to pay for the things that keep me alive, whether or not I have freedom of movement or association, if I have unrestricted access to information – you fuckers in no way shape or form control my interior life.

    Stories are also a great way for oppressed people to pass information ;)

  • Let the world be a lesson about Theme. In “The Anatomy of Story,” John Truby calls theme the moral vision of the author, the author’s view of how to act in the world. Use your art to share your theme, to show people what you think is right and moral. Let your story inspire the people who read it to think about their own moral position in the world.

  • Stories is what humans are made of. We tell stories, we pass stories, we create stories. Resistance is NOT futile. Resistance is staying true to yourself and helping others do the same.

    Once more, much thanks and gratitude for speaking out, loud and clear. Lots of love.

  • Thank you, O bearded one. Words can’t express.

    I wrote the following during the godawful days after the election. Here’s a repost in this most appropriate place:

    Once upon a time someone, can’t remember who, compiled a list, can’t remember where I saw it, of ARTISTS with MENTAL HEALTH PROBLEMS of one kind or another. And I can’t remember if the cause/effect direction was specified. (So right off the bat I’ve identified memory failure as my own mental challenge, but to continue…)
    … Emotional distress seems rampant right now in the world I live in, some of it quite serious. People I’ve considered to be pillars of stability say they’re having a hard time sleeping through the night. When I see tight lips, red noses, vacant stares, I know some suffering is going on. According to what I’ve read (although who can believe anything they read nowadays), the phenomenon I’m describing is quantifiable in the increased incidence of visits to mental health professionals and prescriptions filled.
    … I haven’t been a model of serenity myself.
    … What I’m trying to get at, awkwardly, is a statement to the effect that those of us who have the compulsion to write or to create some other art form have a built-in weapon against despair. I’ll bet a lot of you recognize that very nicely and are busy using your artistic weapon — that bludgeon with spikes you carry with you — and are creating like mad (and mad seems the appropriate word, in both of its definitions). You just wait. Within a few months the world around us will blossom with stories, novels, poetry, drama, music, pictures, you name it, all created in a rush inspired by the same attacks on sanity that make primal screams and the fetal position so attractive at 2 a.m.
    … It helps me just to write that.
    … This is a message of positivity, in case you missed my point, which I haven’t made well due to the spikes on my bludgeon being a little blunted at the moment. Let’s celebrate the urge to do art and let’s use it to help ourselves and others. And that’s another thing. Keeping the needs of others in mind and turning loose as much solace as we can muster is another kind of weapon with mutual benefits.
    … Keep well, everyone.
    … Rita

  • I love this! You express precisely why I wrote The Book of Rhino. I wanted to read a book about social justice and integrity, honesty, and service in those with political power–of course, it’s a fantasy novel, but one can dream. Thank you so much for sharing this; it’s very encouraging.

  • Hell yes. Thank you. I write LGBT books, and I’ve been aware since I signed that first publishing contract that everything I wrote would be political just for its existence. That seed I try to plant is more important now than ever, for those who need it now, and those who will come after. It’s a lot of pressure, which is where I choke, but this helps. This makes me feel determined, and determination shuts up the doubts. So thank you for posting this. I’ve got my game face on and something to reread when the doubts get annoying again.

    • I also write LGBTQ stories/novels. I had not even considered that what I write is political just for its existence. Thank you for that. I’ve been struggling to write in this political climate but your words have given me strength.

  • Sir, I must tell you – your headlines in my inbox are GIVING ME LIFE right now.

    I studied Journalism in college, and the pay for graduates was so atrocious that I went to the dark side. Marketing. Now I look at the world around me and all I see is the ruin and ignorance that my idealistic young self was once SO passionate about dispelling. Thank you for continuing to write, and for lighting a fire under some of our butts.

  • This came at a good time- I spent all weekend waffling around the house having trouble getting the fiction writing mojo going. It never did come, and it’s because I’m burnt out. Every day I watch the world burn and it’s only a matter of time before it catches your own clothing on fire.

    But we come from a long line of people who have been writing truths with far less rights than we have today (think old school Star Trek and its messages of racial equality). And you’re right, the amount of people reading books like 1984 is encouraging, I saw it was the number one best seller on Amazon. It’s times like these we have to find it in ourselves to write harder. Thanks for the reminder.

  • I love you, Chuck Wendig, but I have to say, having Hillary as our leader was more fearful to me than having Trump. Anyone who can breathe should be able to understand and remember her past and all that she’s done criminally wrong. I had nightmares about her leading our country. Keep writing. Keep speaking your thoughts and beliefs. It’s our right to speak our beliefs. I disagree with you on the issue of this one, but please understand that sometimes it’s an “end of the world” (Hillary) or delaying tactic. That’s all.

  • I know it’s not a very motivational answer to the question, but:
    I need money.
    Like, I really NEED money.
    Bill money. Daycare money. Turns out kids are expensive!
    And I know writing isn’t exactly a get-rich-quick scheme, but, yeah, I only got the one additional skill set to work with beyond my day job.
    So if that means trying to make a dime off of “Soviet Sex Dungeon at 1600 Penn”, well, so fucking be it.

  • I belong to a long line of activists, mostly because society was drawn up in a way that required it. I can attest that positive, legal, moral action WORKS and makes you feel better.

    1. Write your Congressperson/Senator. If everybody does it, they end up kind of, sort of listening. It gives you a second voice, in addition to your artist’s voice.
    2. Vote or run for office. We’re seeing that putting Obama in office put SANE judges on the bench. Your vote counts. But treat it like the chess piece that it is. Don’t offer it up as a pawn because you “feel good” voting that way. Treat it like a bishop, a rook, a knight, and when you move it, MAKE IT MATTER to the overall game. The spectators (your fellow citizens) need you to win that game.
    3. Thing about re-routing the cost of your next latte to a better cause. Some of those Senators were bought by DeVos for $20K. It doesn’t take much outrage to pool resources and counter-balance the evil.
    4. Volunteer. There is nothing like helping somebody over the next 45 minutes to give you purpose. So, maybe you don’t feel like your long-term writing matters. (It does.) But that homeless kid you just tutored got help RIGHT THEN. You mattered, RIGHT THEN. And, you counter-balanced the evil.
    5. Finally, consider substitute teaching, if you have the time. Everybody reading this is smart and literate. Consider being that teacher who comes in and influences kids one day-shift at a time. Imagine the books you could recommend during 3rd period alone. Talk about counter-balancing evil.

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