I have just returned from the International Women Writer’s Guild (IWWG) Summer Conference. It is the first-time members have gathered, in person, since Covid. It was as if we’d never taken a two-year hiatus. For me, this gathering is the space where we break out of our boxes, roles, and silence to listen, see, and acknowledge the power of our energy, light, and words.
As an example, the newest box imposed by the Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS) is the abdication of the federal government to protect the health of all United States citizens by allowing states to decide the fate of its residents. This particular ruling puts those able to bear children, the people who love them, and family-planning adults at risk. Escape from misogynistic states is not available to most, especially the marginalized.
BOXES — societal norms, expectations, roles, labels, and defining behavior – limit responses to abuse while abetting abusers. The art community, often dismissed, reflects this intentional subterfuge. Writers, artists, performers, musicians, poets, photographers, and so many more reflect the desire of humans to live safe and secure, and free to find their own form of expression, comfort, and love.
Writing political thrillers is my way to illuminate issues affecting us today. Feedback on several characters surprised me. They had problematic societal characteristics that I did not write intentionally. In effect, I did not recognize my own acceptance of the very norms I examine. Why? I didn’t recognize the extent of my own indoctrination. Breaking free of boxes is a lifelong process.
The breaking-free struggle is not always easy and often hurtful. When masks drop and authentic selves step out, real people and characters reveal their truths and motivations. In life and in fiction, this metamorphosis is often met with resistance, shock, relief.
BOXES do not define freedom or democracy. Operating within a box is only an illusion of freedom. The walls of societal punishment, whether it is through social disapproval or judicial imprisonment, are strong. Life on the outside, and the struggle to get there, is unfathomable to most.
The best amendment to the constitution, in my opinion, would be changing any mention of man/men to homosapien/citizen.
To that end, my characters are human, with traits that set each apart from the other, who think, act with intention, and focus on goals personal, familial, and/or political. I am aware none of the main characters, so far, worry about shelter, food, healthcare, transportation, education, prison, or any of the other normal stressors. This is intentional. It lets me focus on actions, reactions, and ramifications.
I want to live in a world where we humans can accept each other, however we choose to present ourselves and whomever we love. A world where humans, from a diverse collective of experiences and perspectives, with backgrounds of verifiable information and data, come together and solve the pressing problems of today: equality, equity, democracy, and the climate crisis. A world where the many are not bullied by the few.
It is this world my characters struggle to create, challenging boxes and the status quo. In my heart, I hope that it is a catalyst for life imitating art.
To all who follow me and read my work, thank you for joining me on this journey. I appreciated each of you.
Image by Pavlo at Pixabay