Politics and the Blogging Author

It is the political season, and in some sense, it feels very strange to let that time go by without comment on this blog.  That is because–I have to admit it–I am a politics junky.  I like keeping abreast with what’s happening (although I don’t have a TV–it’s all newspapers and online youtube clips, which these days encompasses everything).  I think about policy.  I care about the result of this election.

It somehow, though, seems almost . . . wrong . . . to blog about it as an author.

Why?  It’s what a friend of mine calls “jurisdictional boundaries”–big words that basically mean, if I am wearing my Author Hat, I shouldn’t surprise you all by putting on a big Politics Hat.  You didn’t ask for it.  You don’t care what I think.  If you want politics, you’ll open your OpEd page.  At best, you want to read my books–I hope you want to read my books.  So as an author, politics are not my bailiwick.

Likewise, you shouldn’t care whether your doctor votes Democrat or Republican, as long as she’s a good doctor.  You shouldn’t care if your doctor supports raising the social security age, nor should you switch physicians because you discover that she just doesn’t get what all the fuss is about Harry Potter.  None of that matters to the fine art of doctoring.

But there are small pieces of overlap.  For instance, I would want to know what my doctor thought about the quality of local water.  And, truthfully, no matter how little a writer says about politics, her books inevitably betray at least some of the things that are nearest and dearest to her heart.  So do you disclose it?  Do you admit that it’s been done that way on purpose?  It’s never intended as a lecture, but when an author chooses a “happily ever after,” the way she makes her characters happy often shows what she thinks people need.

Likewise, while I never plan to make this blog political, and especially not overtly so, is it horrible to think about becoming a supporter of my favored person on Facebook?

How much is too much?  I’d love to hear thoughts on this.

10 thoughts on “Politics and the Blogging Author

  1. Oh, that’s a tough one. There’s a faintly glowing line between discussing the issues and campaigning for someone. If no one ever talks about politics, then everyone remains static in their views, but no one, me included, wants a hard sell. I haven’t discussed politics on my blog, either.

    But I’m curious as to how today’s wonky world would be filtered and interpreted through a Victorian England setting. “Bailiwick” was an impressive start!

  2. What an interesting question. I don’t trust myself to blog about politics at all – I save up my rambling rants and inflict them on a select few. 🙂

    Facebook is a relatively small network – it’s not exactly like sticking a campaign button on your website. But still…I guess my question would be, what’s the motive in doing it?

    Is it to tell people something about who you are, and what you believe in? If so, just posting an “I’m for this guy” sticker might not be the best idea. Because while you might see that as a declaration that “I stand for This and This and This,” another person might just as easily see it and think, “Oh, she’s for/against That and That and That.” Which may or may not be true. By simply stating a preference without ever blogging about it, you leave all the interpretation in the mind of the reader. In my case, while I have a strong preference for one candidate, I don’t agree with him on everything. And I’d rather not give people reason to assume I’m pro-This or anti-That, if I don’t ever intend to discuss This or That.

    Or maybe you want to post your preference to feel like part of a “club” or a movement? In that case, you run into the same quandary… For every person who says, “ooh, CM’s one of us!” there could be someone who thinks, “ugh, CM’s one of them.” Not that readers are so simplistic that they would or wouldn’t buy your book based on that. And maybe you’re not interested in pandering to “them” anyway. Just playing devil’s advocate.

    Or maybe you want to use your status as a burgeoning public figure to have some influence on the election’s outcome? I guess if I felt so strongly about any cause that I felt morally obligated to use any and every method of influence I might have to work for it…that would be one thing. Personally, I don’t feel that way about this election, at this time. I’d rather save whatever tiny bit of influence I might accumulate as an author, and use it to raise awareness of specific issues, or to encourage voter participation in general. But if an author (or anyone) feels that a cause is so important she must speak out – bully for her. She should follow her conscience, I think.

    So there’s me vastly overthinking the issue. But even though it’s not something I intend to do, of course I don’t think it’s horrible if you (or any author) does it. You shouldn’t repress your personality. If you’re the kind of person to put a sign in front of your house or a bumpersticker on your car…well then, it’s sort of a logical extension.

    I’m not the kind of person to do any of those things. But if people read my books and my blog and draw a conclusion about which political party I support – well, fine! I’m not trying to hide my values or beliefs. It’s just that I trust my books and my blog to give a more accurate, nuanced picture of them than an “I’m voting for This Guy” sticker.

    Sorry to ramble. I wish I could count this blog comment toward my Unleash Your Story goal…

  3. Hello,
    my first time here, wandered over from Sherry Thomas’ blog (whose first book I have waiting on my nightstand upstairs, with delicious *snerk* anticipation). She described your work as, IIRC, the next Loretta Chase. Nuff said; I will purchase a copy as soon as it appears.

    As a northerly neighbor I don’t think it’s good manners for me to comment on your intense political situation right now, so I’ll just say congratulations on landing an agent, on selling your book, and thanks for a story that gives unpubbed hopefuls (*waves*) strength to keep hanging on.

  4. Yeah, Tessa, I think you’re overthinking it as much as I am. I guess it falls in the category of, “How much do I let my readers know about me as a person?”

    So, it’s probably good to give people a little bit of insight into me as an author. But instinctively, I know that this means funny anecdotes, and not, say, details about my latest dental appointment. Unless that’s funny. Which it isn’t.

    It’s also nice, I think, to know a little bit about authors. I liked the story Eloisa tells about her daughter bargaining to play Draco Malfoy. I love hearing about how authors came to start writing–even if it has nothing to do with what they write. I even like hearing about whether they prefer cats or dogs, favorite flavors of ice cream, why they love their DHs (Elizabeth Boyle’s story about what her husband did for her for her first book made me tear up)–and all that sort of stuff.

    So there is a line of stuff that’s not directly authorially related, but that’s nice to know. I’m guessing that politics is not in that category, and I think both comments sort of tell me that’s where the line is drawn.

    But that’s okay. I’m good at keeping my mouth shut. 🙂

  5. Maya,

    Thanks so much for the comment! There is a lot of reason to hope as an unpubbed author these days. I am seeing a lot of new debut sales, and I know a lot of people who are on the brink. Who knows–you could be next. 🙂

  6. Of course I think you should tell people about yourself! I would never suggest otherwise – just that simply disclosing a party affiliation may not be the most effective place to start. I love those kinds of little anecdotes, too – and I have a hard time finding my own line when it comes to family, because I am so intensely protective of my kids’ privacy. But man-oh-man do I have stories about the darelings…

    Every author has to make her own decisions, I guess. There’s also something to be said for cultivating an air of mystery… 😉

  7. Interesting question, CM. I worry about how far to “out” myself politically when I’m having one on one conversations with other moms at school! It’s what Tessa was saying about being one of “them,” for better or for worse. Instead, I try to focus on what I’m passionate about instead of who I’m passionate about (though one leads you to the other quite easily). And I never (not that I can think of anyway) try to persuade anyone to my way of thinking. Way too sticky. But then I’m the odd man out in my family politically-speaking.

    I struggle with how much to share about myself period. Probably why I don’t have my own blog! I hadn’t thought of us as “burgeoning public figures” (I think that’s what Tessa said), but it’s true. And a bit daunting, I’ll admit.

  8. Politics are a really big deal right now and I think people are particularly entrenched on their own side. I know I am. There are just too many differences between the two ‘sides’. Even if you, personally, don’t 100% agree with your ‘side’, you will be put in that box as ‘my team’ or ‘not my team’.

    Honestly, I don’t want to know how you will vote (unless it is for ‘my team’ 😉 I would take it to mean something about 1. your intelligence, 2. your likeability
    3. your worth as a person. (OK- I’m being rather dramatic here.) If I didn’t know you, it would be a way to categorize you in my brain.

    Interestingly, my h+h are on different political ‘teams’, and it is a big part of their conflict. Ah, writing during an election year…

  9. Tessa makes some very excellent points! I agree on so many items.

    My own personal opinion is that I don’t visit an author’s site or blog to see what his/her political views are. If causes are important to an author, I could completely see adding a link that has to do with those personal causes or opinions (sortof like JK Rowling’s site)and I’d probably let readers decide what political affiliation they think the author is! Not to mention, if you really don’t want to know then readers aren’t forced to see it.

    In terms of facebook…I’ve been on it for several years and since it started as a personal profile (with personal comments from friends on my wall and pictures that I wouldn’t want to throw out there for general fan use) I think I’d reserve my current account for friends (and blog friends) and I’d feel free to post political items there. If I decide to use facebook as a publicity mechanism I’d likely create another account where I’d use a little bit more censorship in terms of pictures and wall posts. There are some things that I wouldn’t think fans need to know…like relationship status! Plus I could add applications that might apply to my genre that I might not normally want to have on my personal profile. Hmm…hope that makes sense.

  10. It’s a tough call. I’ve avoided most political references on my blog because the POINT of the blog is to deliver entertainment to my readers at large and support to other authors. I have posted one video that I found incredibly moving and thought-provoking because it was from a recent vet of Iraq but I prefaced it with the statement that this brief foray into anything political was an abberation.

    I don’t want to know what my fav authors think about politics. It’s a hot button issue for me because, like you, I stay informed and have my opinions. Lol. I just want to know my authors can deliver a great story. =)

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