What Is Not Political?

Still some unpacking left to do, but we are settling into our new home. We had a nephew visiting with us from Wednesday until he left this morning, so we had been out and about with him…

[Dartmouth, Devon, seen from the deck of the Dart Explorer ship that does tours on the river. Photo by me, August 19, 2022.]
[Dartmouth Castle, from the tiny ferry that motors from the castle to the town dock. Photo by me, August 19, 2022.]
[The view from the coastal walking path above and southwest of Dartmouth. Photo by me, August 20, 2022.]
[Outside Andria restaurant, where we ate on Saturday evening. Dartmouth town center. Photo by me, August 20, 2022.]
[Dartmoor ponies near Bellever Tor. Video by me, August 21, 2022.]

Separately, the basics of my new office, which will be in the back garden in a summerhouse, are in place. The next novel will largely be written here:

[My new home office… will be “outside.” Video by me, Dartmouth, Devon, England, August 15, 2022.]

The other day, I also happened to read an interesting post that has been on my mind. Written by an author (I admire), he decried politics in publishing and stated he is pleased he avoids politics in his writing. That led me to wonder: Can an author truly in fact avoid politics?

I don’t believe an author can. For everything we do as people is in its way political. In writing it is therefore impossible for an author to avoid addressing issues we as humans face because those always involve in some way, shape, or form, “who gets what, when, how” – political scientist Harold Lasswell’s 1936 now classic basic definition of politics.

For example, note this seemingly innocuous street photo I snapped the other day while walking here in our new town, Dartmouth:

[A street in Dartmouth, Devon, England. Photo by me, August 19, 2022.]

What is “political” in that photo? One item displayed on a flagpole is clearly a political opinion. Putting that aside, the rest of the photo could certainly also be analyzed politically – from its geographical location, to the type of homes you see, to the history underlying their constructions, to the demographics of their residents and much more.

As authors we can (and I believe should) work to avoid political partisanship invading our novels. I have at times shared some of my partisan political opinions on here (particularly since 2016-17). I do believe, however, that assailing a reader with personal political partisan opinions in a novel is a fundamental no-no.

A novel (I feel) should carry a reader along while aiming to get them thinking as they turn the pages. It should not be turning them off as they are turning pages and even causing them to argue in their heads – or perhaps even venting aloud – in disagreeing with your personal opinions that you present far too directly on those pages. If you are going to write a “punch in the mouth” tale, it is better (I feel) to not even bother and just put out some diatribe pamphlet and not even try to pretend you are a novelist.

Have a good day, wherever you are. 🙂