A writer’s place is in the resistance

4 minute read
Author: SarahWHQ

Humanity! Well, that whole project isn’t quite going the way we intended is it? Sooo here’s the plan. We’re going to make people think that writers are just socially awkward robots who waft around making shit up and drinking too much but actually we’re in the business of turning this shit upside-motherfracking-down. Yes we are.

We’re talking about RESISTANCE WRITING. That is: writing which looks at the world and says ‘oh really?’.

Image of an owl looking surprised with text: O RLY?

When I started writing this intro it turned into a really bad undergrad essay about politics and art and then I was like oh God make it stop please no one cares we just want to write stories. BUT AHA! That’s the thing. Why do we want to write about stories? Well hold on to your pants because I can tell you…

The other day I saw a comment under an article about Her Literary Gloriousness Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie asking why we expected our writers and artists to know about politics.

Ignoring, of course, the obvious gaping hole in the commenter’s knowledge of who CNA is and why she’s famous, this struck me as a particularly peculiar question. What do we think our writers and artists should know about if not politics?

Because our writers (that’s us!) aren’t just here for your entertainment (well, we kinda are but that’s another story). We’re here to explain humanity to itself.

Every story, every book, every film, is a mirror held up to our own actions. Even the stuff that seems throw-away – crime drama, zombie flicks, the latest superhero du jour– are a reflection of our collective cultural anxieties (society is collapsing, yo, and where are our leaders to save us?!), in exactly the same way that literature of the fin de seicle represented the evolutionary, scientific and cultural adjustments of the Victorian era.

Every story, book film whatever, exists to form part of a broad picture of the world – a picture that other media can’t quantify on its own. The hidden voices, the subaltern stories. But, you know, we don’t always manage that too well, and the world is in the shitters. So, writers and gentlemen, it’s time to step up.

We tend to think of resistance as purely a negative act, a big hand saying STOP NO WE’RE DONE. But part of nurturing and loving – because what is resisting the status quo and demanding a better humanity if not about nurturing and loving it? – is providing limits; setting boundaries to catalyse change and asking: “is this okay? Is this what we’re doing? Are we sure this is right?”

In this way, every story we tell is an act of resistance. And as writers we have a responsibility to demand that our canon tells not just our own stories, but the stories of all of us.

So. Here’s some stuff we’ve already written that you might have already read but maybe not, so we’ll share it again just in case:

Now go save the world.

Image of Princess Leia from Star Wars with text: A writer's palce is in the resistance.
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