Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Fiction as Activism

"The Pen is mightier than the sword."
--Edward Bulwer-Lytton

I come from a family of activists. Most of my early memories are at protests, marches and rallies. It was a great way to grow up and I am grateful for it, because I feel that activism and awareness of the world around you broadens your writing and your mind. 

But there are some downsides. Mostly getting asked by people, over and over, why you're wasting your time with the silly writing rather than being out there, changing the world. 

I got asked this the other day. Several times, in fact. And I tried to explain then about the all-encompassing reach of fiction and how it can change you.

The person didn't get it.

Fiction can be activism. It can change people's perspective. It can change cultural norms. Why do you think books get banned or burned throughout history? Because words are powerful. 

YA Fiction, specifically, can have a huge effect on the world (at least in my opinion). Teenagers are the future (and wow do I sound like an old lady when I say that. Ha), and by opening their minds to different ideas, different ways of life, different religions, different morals, different politics, different sexualities, then we, as authors, are giving them a chance to broaden (and maybe open) their minds. To think about what it would like to be different. And even to relate to characters who are different from them, but they can still identify with on certain levels. 

One book can change someone's life. I fully believe that because one book changed mine. So how big of a step is it to believe that one book can change the world? Or at least part of it.

I am an activist. And I am a writer. Those two things are hopelessly tangled together in my brain, and it colors my writing. I write about gay teens, about sexuality and sex, about being a young woman in this world and all the dangers and joys that come with it, because maybe someday, I will be able to change someone's life out there.  

We'll see. But until then, I'm gonna keep on with my "silly writing".

Tess Sharpe

1 comment:

Beth Fehlbaum, Author said...

I get what you're saying. I consider my writing to be activism, too.
Beth Fehlbaum, author
Courage in Patience, a story of hope for those who have endured abuse
Ch. 1 is online!