Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Aligning Your Wings

Is there a message in your book that you want readers to grasp? 


Some messages run deep, not just within my first published novel COLD GIRL, but the series, and I don't know if they can even be called messages so much as backbeats, about addiction, depression, courage, belonging. The message I am conscious of trying to get across also runs through my series, and it's similar to Susan's opening in yesterday's post. Basically: be a good person.

Being optimistic most days, I believe people are quite good enough, thank you -- even in these sad, mad times of demagogues and bombs -- and don't need me chipping in with my message of peace, love and understanding. Other days it feels like all humanity is pure evil and my mild nudging would be futile anyway. But that's only on really bad days. On any day, I think it's important to state your case in the undercurrents of your prose -- without getting in the way of plot and all that.

Because "be good" IS an important message, however generic it may sound, and even good people may need annual (or even semi-annual) realignment, right?

For instance, I'm a good person (I believe). But when I watch a movie or read a book with the underlying message *be good, be tolerant, be open-minded*, I don't go, phh, don't tell me what to be! I go, yeah, I could be better!
Though I'm getting better at public speaking, it's still hard for me. If I'm in a large group and I have an opinion on something, I'll just swallow it. Or suffer treppenwitz, that maddening ability to think up a snappy answer when it's too late. So writing gives me a bit of a platform to express, at my own speed, how I feel about an issue, say homophobia, racism, sexism, or just plain stupidism.
I'm watching some online TED Talks lately, because I've got a book launch coming up and I'm trying to figure out how to be brave, lucid, powerful, resonant, smart, or at least come across like I know why I'm standing here at the podium. On one TED session Clint Smith -- described as a poet and teacher -- talks about the danger of silence, and how we need to find the courage to speak up against ignorance and injustice.
Well, easy to say if you're an eloquent wordsmith like Clint Smith, not so easy if you're me. But I take what he says, and going forward will try to learn how to be vocal about what I believe in. In my writing, I think with time I will introduce stronger and more daring messages to my subtext. For now I am keeping it simple, and hope that my readers, if they're looking for direction, will take my message to heart and be swayed toward respecting each other, and animals, and the planet, as much as they can.
Not that it's always easy, practical, or even possible to be as good as we want to be. But every little bit helps.
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It just occurred to me, I'm talking about spreading goodness and light by writing crime novels. CRIME novels. Seems incongruous, but that's probably a topic for another day!

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