Write Truth, Because Polite Society Is Anything But

The truth is out there, and I often write about it. Some don’t like this and attempt to tell me and everyone else what not to write. And though my novels involve aliens of both the extraterrestrial and terrestrial kind, I’m not referring to government coverups or censure.

I’m alluding to those who would build walls around myriad subjects a writer might espouse upon. As in, how dare a writer inconvenience a reader by drawing attention to a problem or issue they don’t choose to acknowledge, or seek to understand. Like domestic violence.

In On Writing, Stephen King says, “…if you expect to succeed as a writer, rudeness should be the second-to-least of your concerns. The least of all should be polite society and what it expects. If you intend to write as truthfully as you can, your days as a member of polite society are numbered, anyway.”

Uh-oh. Or perhaps boy howdy, and pass it on. Because what if polite society is anything but?

Is it polite to turn your eyes and heart and mind away from the plight of others? Is it polite to treat victims as if their pain is not real? As if they are an inconvenience or a derisive joke in your privileged myopic world?

What happens when a writing contest seems to expect just that? You mustn’t write about aliens, yet it’s okay to write about angels or less polite biblical concepts like being demonically tortured in a fiery hell. Despite contest guidelines eschewing trite, overused themes.

So, some paranormal is more equal than others. Got it. Maybe instead write about real human stuff? Except rules say no stories involving climate change or any other issue recently in the news. Like bullying. And absolutely do not ever write about domestic violence.

There’s contest judging, and just plain judgmental.

Recently I unfortunately viewed a YouTube clip wherein a supposed comedic writer ranted about female fictional characters she didn’t like. First and foremost was a woman in a relationship with an abusive male. Her highly insensitive tirade was derisive, blaming and just plain mean. Making fun of women living in a nightmare is not my idea of comedy, or sage advice on writing.

What does it imply when a contest or a comic spotlights what they see as bothersome stories with domestic abusers in them?

On one level, I can wholeheartedly relate. I don’t like to read about things that trigger trauma, or tales that gratuitously, graphically glorify violence and cruelty (see previous comment regarding burning in hell). But I also don’t like to see anyone’s personal trauma trivialized. As if it’s just another silly subject society can’t be bothered to recognize as real.

Is domestic violence seen as someone else’s problem? Perhaps folks are of a mind that women shouldn’t get themselves in pesky situations that others don’t need to hear about? Or that someone might dare to write about personally triumphing over?

I suppose triumph over adversity stories are persona non grata if the characters include an abuse victim who ultimately saved herself. That (horror of offensive societal horrors) could be a domestic violence story with a surprise ending, and perhaps an inspiring tale for others.

It might just be someone’s truth, which no one deserves to have trivialized as not worthy by petty little missives on what not to write, contest constrictions, or dictates of so-called polite society.


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