For the most part, pretty sound advice I’d say. Probably good advice for writers as well. I don’t mean avoiding politics in terms of content for your novel or short story. There are political thrillers out there that have been very successful and if you have the knack for that sort of thing then I say have at it.
I’m thinking about this more in terms of social media such as Twitter or Facebook. Now, some folks are apolitical animals by nature. They generally avoid the topic and have little interest one way or another. Others are very devout and steadfast in their political beliefs and are quick to rise to any challenge of their belief system. I’m not saying that one is necessarily better than the other, but I think that for a new or budding writer, taking the political middle road may be the best option.
There are potential buyers out there who may decide to not purchase your book based on your stated political beliefs. This isn’t as strange as it may seem at first. There are plenty of folks who wouldn’t give a Glenn Beck novel so much as a sniff because they so vehemently disagree with his politics. Other’s wouldn’t read “It Takes A Village” at gunpoint.
I think the only writers who can get away with being political to some extent are those who have already “made it.” A perfect example is Stephen King. He is an uber-liberal northeasterner who for the most part keeps his politics out of his novels. Smidgens here and there possibly, but he doesn’t take a club and beat you over the head with it. Recently though, he published a Kindle book on his thoughts about the 2nd Amendment and gun control. Oy, talk about tackling a sticky subject. If he was a new or up and coming author, something like this could be a roadblock to bigger and better things. Because of who he is, it will probably not make a dent in his sales. ( I considered shipping every book of his I own to his home addy but the shipping would have been outlandish)
Avoiding political topics may be in the best interest of a new writer, but how is this best accomplished? First, if you are one of the apolitical animals, it’s kind of a non issue. If , however, you happen to get fired up about political issues, the task is much tougher. You can choose to damn the torpedoes and charge full speed ahead, letting your political persona coexist with your writing persona or you can work to keep the two separate. It’s hard to say which of these strategies is the best because it boils down to individual choice. I do think that trying to keep your writing self different from your political self is probably best from a social media standpoint. With that said, you need to have this strategy developed to some extent before dipping your toes into the social media circles.
I’m a pretty good example of how NOT to go about this. My Twitter account is 5 years old and I’ve never tried to keep my political self separate from my writing self. Now I think I’m too far down the line to change. I mean, I could. I’m just too damned lazy to set up another Twitter account and don’t want to hassle with it. As far as Facebook goes, I don’t use it for writing buddies as much but if the poles of the earth shift and I become a famous author, all them funny political posts will come back to haunt me, I’m sure.
What say you? Do you keep your writing away from your politics?