What Price an Author’s Politics?

 

I don’t believe I’m the only one disenchanted with the current state of affairs on FaceBook. Rather than launching a campaign in broad strokes of generalities from a supercilious pulpit, I will keep things simple and try my best to articulate where I’m coming from as an artist, for writing, to me, is a high art.

 

Like legions the world over, I joined FaceBook to stay connected with many people I’d lost touch with over the years. I grew up in Memphis, which means I’m a Southerner, and Southerners are raised in packs attendant to other packs. The domino effect of this reaches into the hundreds. And I care about all my pack members, so I considered the advent of FaceBook a gift that kept me connected, now that I’m a transplanted Southerner living in California.

 

And then I cultivated a writing career. I, like other writers, was therefore obligated to do my share of marketing and promotion for my books, and Facebook is, perhaps, the most viable avenue to do so. In short order, my list of “friends” grew longer, and I, wanting to help my fellow writers, turned around one day to discover I was connected to unfathomable numbers of authors I would have never known otherwise. And it thrilled me. I will always be fascinated by those who create, be they a writer, musician, dancer or painter. Give me your art, says I; it softens the blow of the human experience. In my opinion, there is such beauty in this world, and it is the artist’s God-given aptitude that points this out. It has been my pleasure and honor to help promote other authors, and there is safety in numbers in this business of living, if one is lucky enough to come across others of their ilk. Like begets like, or so it seemed to me, but lately I’ve become soul-sick and heart-confused while looking at FaceBook, and I’m trying to get to the bottom of why.

 

I feel hoodwinked, led into the miasma of a bait and switch. I came to Facebook because of friendship and art, but now it seems I’m being held prisoner for political ransom. I know the arguments: freedom of speech, a forum for “voice,” and all the other rights people stand up for. I’m not suggesting any of this is wrong, but I do question its appropriateness. Just because one can doesn’t mean one should, and the irony for an author is pontificating politically automatically polarizes their followers. There’s no sense in not admitting this, and those that don’t might be assuming their followers completely agree with their views, yet if this is the case, then why preach to the choir?

 

I think authors should seriously think through posting their political view on FaceBook, and weigh it for the potential ramifications to their career. After all, the way an author shows up in the world begins with deciding how they want to be perceived. I had this question posited to me recently, when my literary agent asked me to articulate “my brand.” It’s going to matter when my next two novels come out, and currently there is wisdom in establishing and investing in my base. I’m thinking the more streamlined and specific I can be, the better.

 

Readers align with us for stories. Reading stories gives many suspended quarter in a hectic world. Readers don’t necessarily need to know who the person is behind the story. If an author is doing it right, their stories will speak volumes to answer the question, without detracting from the author’s mystique.

 

I’m not saying I long to be seen as mysterious, only that I like the idea of my stories speaking for themselves. As for who I am, I’ll let the readers decide, and willingly leave politics to the political pundits.

 

 

 

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16 thoughts on “What Price an Author’s Politics?

  1. I’ve always been reticent about Facebook as I don’t like every experience posted for the world, should they be reading, to follow. I’m mostly interested in staying in touch with family thousands of miles away, and I mostly love the photos of family.

    That said, this past political election has been a grueling and hateful experience with at least as many people horrified over the results as elated by them. If people find FB a way of letting off some of their anger, confusion, or concerns, I find it much safer than other avenues of expression. If they find it a way of in-gathering those of similar views, I can’t find fault. Think about any time you are upset or celebrating – you want your closest family and friends by your side.

    I still prefer my news from newspapers and news magazines.

    Much to think about, Claire. Thanks for the article.

    Like

    1. Thank you for this, Sharon. And yes, I agree, if people want to use FB to let off steam, as you aptly wrote, then, of course, it is their right. But I do believe that Tina Frisco’s comment, wherein she said she has two FB pages: one for friends, the other for her books, is the key. Always nice to read anything you write, Sharon. I appreciate hearing from you.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I think that you are right Claire.. publishing houses have taken the public face of their authors very seriously and there is a list of dos and don’ts about what you can say and do.. As Indies we are the ones protecting our image and we forget that it is so open these days to everyone.. I think the same can be said for the celebrities who are very vocal in their political views.. admirable but it will be interesting to see the knock on effect.. especially remembering the witch hunts of the 1950s and 1960s in Hollywood.

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    1. Yes, those in Hollywood are a very good example, Sally. Leave it to you to produce such a thorough comment! It seems to me any time a “public figure” opens their mouth, their words are subject to a 50/50 chance of being understood. And the political climate these days is so heated. People often confuse the line between politics and art. Again, I’m not saying it’s wrong for an author to comment politically, only to think about if they’re willing to be judged as an artist by their politics. Sadly, I think it happens. Slainte, Sally.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. I’m an author with both an FB author page and a personal page. I don’t post political content on my author page, but I do post the occasional political article on my personal page. I have hundreds of friends and followers who aren’t authors, and many are politically active. Thus, the posts on my personal page are eclectic. Your point about polarizing followers is well-taken. It’s a delicate balance we authors must achieve. Some of the most active and positive engagement I’ve had with followers has been on political posts. We’ve gotten to know each other better and have grown closer. I think how we present ourselves is often more important than what we present. I enjoy discussions but don’t abide arguments. and I make this clear in comments. Perhaps the manner in which we present ourselves is the key. You’ve certainly given me food for thought …

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    1. Tina, I think you’ve got a brilliant solution in delineating your pages. Now here is an author who thought this subject through, and I applaud you! You’ve written this comment so well, it tells me you’re a great writer with uncommon reasoning skills.
      !

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Claire, you stun me with such praise. Thank you. All I can say is: In order to see the brilliant and uncommon, one must be brilliant and uncommon. Either that or we’re both deluded! And I prefer to think the former 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

  4. Great article. Claire! I agree about political views being kept to oneself. It came be disheartening to read some of the FB hyperbole. I prefer to keep my views few and far between when it comes to politics.
    Best wishes! 😊

    Like

    1. Indeed. It’s a tricky situation. Just look at Meryl Streep, who went into her award winning speech at The Golden Globes with what was probably mild intent and oh, the back-lash.I think authors are public figures, and public figures have images. One should look
      before they leap! Best wishes to you!

      Liked by 1 person

  5. I don’t think you should be feeling pressure to post political stuff if you’re not comfortable with it. I hope that isn’t happening to you. At the same time, I don’t think there is any reason to chastise authors who do choose to share their political views with their Facebook friends. Basically, as long as everyone is doing what they personally feel is right, I can’t see a problem.

    As an author, I write stories about gay and bisexual men. To avoid the politics affecting real gay and bisexual men would, I think, be unethical. And for many of us, the personal is political.

    I also know that the vast majority of readers are not facebook friends with their favorite authors. Those that do choose to follow authors in that way have to accept they are following a person, not a persona. If they want to preserve “the mystique,” then friending authors on social media is maybe not the best idea.

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    1. Hmmm. Chastise authors, my fellow writer? In no way was this my aim. The aim was only to seriously consider the ramifications. I make no statements either way. If an author has thought this through and arrived at the conclusion that there are no ramifications, then fair play!

      Like

  6. These are good thoughts, Claire. I think everyone needs to be true to themselves, regardless of their profession.
    I agree that authors may suffer for voicing their political views and will lose followers. I also think that some take shamelessly to pontificating about things they really know nothing about. On the other hand it has often been the courage of people in the public eye to speak out that helped shape society, so I feel a moral obligation to take a stand on certain issues that touch upon my core.

    Liked by 1 person

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