Fun characters, an intriguing plot, the excitement of a murder and an affair… is it okay to write a novel, story, or article, purely in order to entertain the reader? To distract them? In a world of rife and normalised injustice, I confess I often feel like distraction is out of order and those with any sort of voice have a duty to fight the good fight.
But I admit that I’m changing. I’m learning the value of good rest, of just enjoying a moment, or enjoying writing for the sake of writing – sometimes.
The problem, then, of writing purely to entertain, is when there is a lack of awareness of the consequences of one’s writing. No writing, no articles, are neutral. Even a supposedly innocent murder mystery will either challenge predominant and destructive stereotypes, or reinforce them. It will normalise violence, or challenge it. It will obstruct an understand of where violence comes from, or be based on a deep understanding of its structural complexity and roots. A fun, light romance with a flat male character who sees relationships in the same way as headphones man ultimately ends up being less fun and doing damage, as it reinforces the idea of dating as a game with women as a prize or trophy that can be won if the right combination of words are used and the right style of clothing worn. Why not write a fun, light romance, with a strong female protagonist, or a trans person, or older people. Why not write a romance where love isn’t limited to the boring cliches of flowers and beach walks, but becomes a creative and fascinating journey, which is complex, beautiful, and challenge ridden?
For me, I’ll stick to the stories that point out injustice, that dream of new ways of being, and that fight for a historical memory of the poor majority. Stories that resist. But maybe one day, I’ll write that romance-mystery as well. Just for the fun of it, just to enjoy life. Because even that can be resistance sometimes.
– Tamara Pearson, author -The Butterfly Prison