CN: misogyny, discrimination mentions, etc. (Toby Young and Boris Johnson)
I didn’t do a lot of writing during the winter break (refusing to use the term ‘vacation’ is a form of resistance, however mild). But I did a decent bit of planning, and I have increasing confidence of what will happen in the middle part of The Lives of Artists (the alst part is still very vague, and a lot of what I have plotted before likely needs to be redone).
My writing is never far from what is political- it does not exist in this separate, transcendent artistic realm which floats above all political and social complexities and turmoils. One thing that bothered me is that in The Lives of Artists the character who goes to Oxford is Alexander. This bothered me because of its problematic implications. Alexander lives out privilege in all its forms, and is additionally overconfident and attractive. If he was the only character to go to Oxbridge, then a problematic message that could be read from my novel is that only privileged people should go to Oxbridge- that it’s a place for the elite. But that is NOT what I intend to tell people at all. Thus, I had to change something. Now Selena, who lack privilege in many respects, is supposed to go against her familial expectations and not apply to Oxbridge- in order to show that you can be happy at other universities too, that you don’t need to attend Oxbridge to do well in life. I imagined she would be happy somewhere in some lively city- say Manchester or Bristol (not London, she must move away from London for plot reasons). But perhaps I needed to change things, to put her into Cambridge to be more precise. I’m not sure about this decision, but I can see how it can further the plot, especially with Selena’s boyfriend’s obsession with getting into Oxford, and how competition and success more widely strains their relationship. I’m not writing this part yet, but this seems to be an important consideration.
Another thing that happened was the unearthing and wide-spread publication of Toby Young’s ghastly comments and opinions, which we would have all rather he’d kept to themselves. For me, this uncovered a cauldron of disgusting, offensive and regressive conservative opinions, which I realised were relatively acceptable until recently- having read some articles Young and Johnson published in the 90s and 2000s that reek of misogyny and other forms of discrimination. At first I wanted to tone down the discrimination in my novel so that people do not get my message wrong. However, seeing how these awful opinions have been given platform by major media outlets even in recent decades, changed my minds. Because such awful opinions were true and probably bloody awful to live with and made living life hard for members of certain groups. And hell- discrimination plays a pivotal role in my novel. I realise it’s okay to show such opinions, as long as I keep them to a minimum and ensure my reader understands this is not what I think- or okay. (To myself: one opinion, in the polyphony of many… heteroglossia huh?). But to show these opinions, and to show them for what they are- not to gloss over them, dress them up or to whitewash them. How truly awful those opinions were and are.
Also, I’m thinking that the series currently stands at having five parts. There is a character, and their corresponding hypercomic, that I am unsure about. If this was included in my series, it would be the 5th part out of 6, and therefore, it’s not something I should worry too much about.
Writing has helped my mental health as of now.
Now to deal with netgalley and begin drafting my short story submission.
P.S: “Politics, Society and Literature” sounds like a university paper/module/course that I would teach. 😅