Let’s Get Political

Why do people join Twitter?  For me, personally, Twitter is a place where I get the opportunity to have an exchange with other writers, public figures, actors, performers, and to get to know a side of them I haven’t previously been able to see. maybe get inside their heads a little, see what their process is like.  Actors, writers and musicians are the most interesting people to do this with on account of the art, but it’s nice to see how everyone’s mind works.  I also enjoy finding people who share common interests with me.  Lastly, it is a part of my writer’s platform, a place where I can advertise my work and put my own thoughts out into the world for public consumption.  (If anybody doesn’t believe that as a “last” purpose, take a look at my account – originally, it was all fandom all the time, because that’s who I was connected with at the time.

The reasons I enjoy Twitter lead to why it bothers me so much when it becomes clear to me that an account on Twitter is solely created as a marketing technique and not as a vehicle of expression and connection to others.  I despise autofollow messages and autogenerated DMs and I hate accounts that are created for the sole purpose of advertising ones work.  Why?  Because I want to get to know you and your views, whether I may like them or not.  Because it makes you a real person.

Often, when experts discuss the best way to build your platform as a writer, you hear the following: Don’t get political.  Don’t get religious.  Don’t get too fiery.  Stay the course.  Discuss your writing.  Discuss topics that relate to your writing.  Don’t get involved in arguments.  Don’t give your public any reason to cut itself in half.  And it makes sense.  As a writer, or any public figure, really, you want people to like you.  You don’t want to turn people off by loudly blasting views that will turn people off to your work.  The theory is that you should be able to separate the product from the artist who created it.  But is that even possible in this age of social media marketing?  And even if it was, could you maintain it?

I enjoy speaking my mind.  I try to do so in a calm and rational way, but I always feel my most comfortable when I’m saying how I feel.  I’m a staunch democrat.  Pretty damn Liberal.  I believe in a woman’s right to choose and a woman’s right to birth control.  I am a Feminist through and through and believe in wage and social equality.  I believe in marriage equality. I believe in fighting any and all bigotry that I encounter.

Whew!  It felt good getting that out there.  Most people with an audience are very careful about what they say.  I tend not to be and here’s why.

I am a writer.  Who I am fuels the stories I tell.  If I don’t tell you I’m a feminist, but submit to you the story of a woman who believes she has as much of a right to stand up and be heard as a man and fights towards that end, would you be completely shocked to learn that I am a feminist?  If I don’t tell you that I believe in marriage equality, that I am a staunch ally to the LGBT community, wouldn’t you be able to tell that based on the fact that many of my stories feature gay or lesbian characters in prominent roles as tastefully (or not – depends on the character) depicted as any of my heterosexual characters?  I may not need to beat you over the head with my viewpoints for you to get a strong feeling of what they would be.

So let’s call a spade a spade here.  If you dislike gay people, my stories will likely not be for you.  If you are a racist, my stories will likely not be for you.  If you have issues with women in power, my stories will likely not be for you.  In that way, I find that expressing my views may actually be beneficial to my readership because nobody will be surprised by what they are going to find.

Are some of the values of my characters different than those of my own?  Of course, or else it wouldn’t be a good story.  I can’t simply keep reciting my own thoughts as though they are gospel and expect to write something decent. However, there are themes about acceptance and love between characters in all of my stories that do shine through.

Don’t get me wrong.  If you’re political ideas are different, I will be more than happy to debate that with you, and I respect your opinion.  (If you’re an actual bigot, that respect your opinion thing doesn’t apply to you. Sorry.  I don’t associate with bigots of any kind.)

So which is better?  Creating a public persona and hiding an aspect of who I am so that others have no idea what to expect from me?  Or being very open about exactly who I am to create a more stable potential fanbase, one that will not suddenly flee when it is realized that my values don’t necessarily coincide with their own.

Thoughts?