Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Social Issues and the Writer

Have you ever seen a writer write? If you have seen me, it is probably in some coffee house or that the public library with my fingers pounding on the keyboard to a laptop or my eyes are staring off in to the ether trying to imagine the scene I am writing. You may pass me by and think “that’s all he does , sit there and type?” You see me writing, but you missed the most important stage—the living research.

Someone once said that a writer is simply a chronicler of the times he or she lives in. I beg to differ. A chronicler implies that all we do is stand by like dispassionate scientists writing our observations on the page. While writing can be a solitary activity during the actual physical typing of the story, our works permeate from our experiences, our views and those of the people around us. All literature is meant to be a magical looking glass through which we reflect the world around us back at the reader. We may overtly or covertly put the social issues (such as corruption, the environment, decimation, education, intolerance, and more ) our cultures face into the story.

As an American writer, I am spoiled by our right to free speech under our Constitution. Sadly, there are “brothers and sisters” of us writers who try to produce their work under strong censorship with brutal consequences. Yet, it is writers (be it fiction authors, poets, lyrists, journalist, or non-fiction authors) that slash open the challenges our cultures face and leave it unapologetically naked for the world to see. Some of us only create mild ripples in the pond. Other (like Ben Bova, Arthur C. Clarke, George Orwell, and others) see were society is headed and try to warn of what may happen. Some (like Charles W. Chestnut, Charles Dickens and Victor Hugo) show the world the dichotomy of their cultures. Others beg us to never forget (such as Herman Wouk with The Winds of War and War and Remembrance , Lois Lowry with Number the Stars, and Dee Brown’s Bury My Heart At Wounded Knee). Still others try to steer change in society and our institutions (such as Sinclair Lewis with The Jungle or Harriet Beecher Stowe with “Uncle Tom’s Cabin”).

We are more than chroniclers of the world around us. With sleeves rolled up and our fingers poised on the keyboard we write to entertain, to inform, to enrich, and to change. 

Thank you for reading and please visit and Fiction is the world where the philosopher is the most free in our society to explore the human condition as he chooses.


  1. So true, Teresa. Without even trying,m the issues you mention--corruption, the environment, decimation, education, intolerance, and more--creep into our stories, which can measure the economic, social and emotional effects of imbalances in our world. That's the magic of fiction. It can show, not tell, what the impact of these forces means in human terms.