I'm author and editor Holly M. Kothe. Thanks for stopping by my writing and review blog.
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Monday, December 19, 2016

About That Article About Not Posting About Politics, and Why I Want To Come Out

I don't come out about this a whole lot. I feel like I've been forced to come out, because some people who don't know me went to Twitter and publicly called me a Trump supporter (or something like that), and stated that I was anti-gay and oblivious to my white privilege. I'm not racist. I'm not oblivious to white privilege. I'm not oblivious to the obvious racism going on in this world. I'm not anti-gay. I support gay marriage and never want to see that taken away. I'm not any of these things I was accused of. I didn't support Trump with my vote. I'm sort of the opposite of a Trump fan. I've been hurting so deeply about the state of the election that I couldn't even talk bring myself to talk about it anymore. Or complain.

I do post about issues that are important to me, but to me, supporting gay marriage or non-profit groups or advocating for human rights is not "arguing politics." That is simply doing what is right to me. I am all about saying how I feel regarding these issues. 

I realize some people see the word "politics" differently. These things--religion, sexual preference, race, etc. are definitely issues that are argued in politics. But my focus was really on all the ugly arguments of the election. All the judgment, blame, complaining, insulting, etc. I think there are more productive things we could be doing than fighting each other and hurting each other online. That was my most passionate point. I did not mean to make anyone feel wrong for having or posting an opinion on politics. It is everyone's right to do so. I realize the tone and wording of the article does indeed do that. I also realize the contradiction of writing about not posting politics and then posting about the politics. Lessons learned, y'all. 

Also, the column was related to social media, but not to books and publications. There was a point when I just couldn't read any more Clinton/Trump posts. I'm sure I'm not the only one who feels that way. Not because it wasn't an important issue, just because I had to look into it and research the facts the best way I could--not according to my news feed. My feelings were hurt when someone I knew and loved posted for Trump. I didn't confront them about it, because they are allowed to support who they want to support. But, on the flip side, I thought maybe I'd be hurting people I cared for if I posted against Trump. I'm just overly sensitive, yeah. Some people love to post politics, and I don't mean to tell them not to. 

I just don't like to bring politics into my social media. That doesn't mean you can't enjoy doing so. Please, feel free, no matter what you write about in your books. I didn't mean to come off as a raging bitch telling authors what to do. I realize that I did come off as that raging, bossy bitch in my column. Snark seems to work well for articles about editing and the craft of writing (my forte), not so well for politics (NOT my forte). 

I wouldn't tell you who to vote for during an election, because that doesn't work. And I don't like to hear people who aren't experts tell me who to vote for either, because there is already so much I'm confused about, so much I don't understand in this world of ours. Misinformation abounds, especially on social media. There are fake news posts, families insulting each other behind keyboards, strangers going for the low blows. But, again, I hate being told what to do. I don't want to tell anyone else what to do. I just want to say how I feel. What is right and appealing for you may not be right and appealing for me. We are all different. I can't stomach confrontation, but I'll do it if I have to. I'm not a fan of arguing. It's stressful to me. Like, fight or flight stressful. Some people enjoy it. And they are welcome to it. 

Somewhere along the lines I gave a bad and wrong impression of that, which is my failure as a writer. I just would like to set the record straight, especially because I'm hella scared of Trump. Always have been. Probably always will be...

People can tear you down publicly, but when you try to talk to them one on one about it in a non-aggressive way, they aren't as responsive for some reason. This is not referring to any one specific person, by the way.

If you read this, thank you. I do care about readers (I know that was a bit of a no-no in my column, but I stand by it). I care about every single reader who gives my words a go. Even if I don't agree with the reader politically, even if the reader doesn't like me, I appreciate EVERY SINGLE READER who gives my blood, sweat, and tears the time of day. 

Here's the dreaded article that I posted. I'm afraid to put it out there, but if you are reading and got to this point, I just want you to be able to be informed about what the fuck I'm talking about. Again, I want to tell everyone that I don't want to censor any of you! This is not me telling you what to do. This hunk of mouthiness is some experiences that I have had. I think this article was a mistake to put out there and a bit too know-it-all and smart-assed for my own good. But I want to leave it here, because I want to show you the mistake. Laying it all out so you can see where I went wrong (if you think I did--some have said they agree with it). This is simply my attempt at showing you my wrongs and trying to make it right. I think we've all been there. I won't grab your pussy without your permission, but I'll say the word "pussy" (and fuck and shit and ass-master--I'm a lover of words). And I'm not too much of a pussy to admit when I'm not doing shit the wrong way, like telling people what to post. Here's what I published and then took down, because it's not my place to tell you whether or not to post politics:

7 Reasons Politics is Killing Your Career (in social media)

Your social media platform is one of the most powerful tools as a writer. It is free, marketable, and provides the opportunity to build a readership if you use it right. The question is: Will you use it for effective marketing or for your personal political agenda? For creativity or career destruction? Good or evil? Make your choice.

I’ve run into two opinions amongst professionals regarding politics on social media. For some, it’s wrong NOT to post, not to speak your truth. It’s evil to promote silence. The world is aflame, and posting on lighter or more entertaining subjects is UNTHINKABLE! How dare we not write about the evils on social media all the time? Then there’s the other school. Their advice is to shut up about politics, because there's a time and a place (and an author brand) for everything.

I understand both viewpoints. You have to do what feels right for you. It’s been a road, my friends, but I’ve come to be a member of the latter school. Unless you are a political writer, and promoting politics is your game, you may just want to join my preferred school. Here’s why.

1.  You’ll Abandon Your Author Brand.

You may want to write full-time and make a career out of it. You may do it as a therapeutic outlet with no professional goals in mind. Either path is fantastic. We are creatures of creativity. But if your goal is writing full-time as a profession, remember your focus. Think of your audience and how you will market your brand as an author. Fantasy, horror, edgy erotica? Politics? It would be fitting for someone who writes about non-fiction political topics to post a shit-ton of politics on their page. They are aiming for a certain audience. They are also aiming for certain reactions to get some buzz going about their work. An author of YA suspense shouldn't take the same marketing path as the political writer.

Learn from my own self-destructive experience. I’ve posted things, only to go back and delete the thread because it was turning into a shit show. The waters of Facebook were getting a bit too choppy when my purpose with social media has always been to promote literature, music, film (basically anything arts-related), and to connect with friends and strangers who share like-minded interests. Professionally, I wanted to network with readers, writers, and other editors. There are still times when I am tempted, but then I remind myself that making political enemies is not on my to-do list. It’s  just not what I’m using my public platform for as a fiction writer and editor.

2.  You Could Lose A Reader.

A lot of people really don’t like this viewpoint. Am I being fake and schmoozy with readers if I want them to buy my book even when I don’t agree with them politically? No. Some authors are of the opinion that if they lose a reader after their political rant, well, then they don’t want that reader anyway. I think that’s the solid mark of a pretentious author. Care about your readers, even if you don’t agree with them. If they take the time to read your creative blood, sweat, tears, and whatnot, CARE about them. As much as some of us don’t like to face it, writing is a business. Publisher won’t work with you if they can’t get anyone to buy your books. Social media is about the most useful platform for building a readership and promoting your writing. If you haven’t cranked out a New York Times Best Seller or haven’t been able to make a living as a full-timer writer,  how choosy can you be with your readers? You can’t be. But, let’s say you are a best selling author bringing in six figures a year. We still don’t want to hear it from you. It just makes us all really crabby and ruins our Facebook experience. 

3.  Productivity And Quality Will SUFFER from flame wars.

When I thought I was cool and would do everyone a favor by turning them from political moral corruption, I found it didn’t quite work. Not only that, I was getting angry at people, dealing with frustration and anxiety and drama when I should have been working. I stopped putting it on my own FB page and grabbed a bucket of popcorn to see who else was having the same problem. Family fought family, professionals took their shit out on colleagues in a completely non-professional way, friends insulted other friends and other friends’ spouses. Even people’s children were fair game for flame wars. Some threads got so bad, you just knew there were tears of hurt behind those responses. If that is your shtick, go for it. I found that such turmoil kept me from writing. Even when I turned off social media, my mood had been affected and I was no longer in that head space to crank out a good word count. I can’t focus on creativity when I’m so worked up about something that has nothing to do with my fiction. All I wanted to do after that was take a nap. Or maybe a Xanax. It’s just not worth it.

4. You Could Be Marketing!

You are wasting your time on political complaining. Truly, you are. Your time on social media can be spent promoting your work, promoting others’ work, stalking other successful authors’ accounts and seeing what works for them, or even connecting with readers and potential readers. When your writing gains traction, readers will start to reach out to you. If they love what you write, they love to hear from the author. If you respond in a sincere and humble way, you are building a die-hard following who will fork over the cash for anything you publish. When you vomit politics, you aren’t going to convert anyone. So please, don’t bother. None of us want you to try.

5. It’s Not A Good Look On You. Or Anyone.

Self-righteousness is never a flattering look, even if it’s a popular trend nowadays. I’ve tried the outfit on plenty of times, and it was about as attractive on me as a pair of skin-colored leggings. The only thing posting politics got me or my friends was ugly, raging arguments from family and friends. People can really bring out the nasty when they stand behind keyboard courage. If you wouldn't say it in your friend's home at their cozy Christmas party, don't hide behind the screen to say it either. Don't let your news feed be a playground for chaos. T’would be prettier for us all to partake in National Skin-Colored Leggings Day.

6. You’ll Demolish Your Career Opportunities.

These issues are important. They run deep. There are things that need to be discussed regarding race, human rights, prevalent violence, security, financial policy, political corruption, etc., etc. It sounds old-fashioned as fuck, but there really is a time and place etiquette. Readers may not want to read you, and editors may not want to publish you if they can plainly see that your most passionate pastime is pissing people off politically on social media. No one is saying you shouldn't Do and Discuss. If you believe in a cause, get out there and fight for it, whether that means volunteering for those in need, getting petitions signed, calling governors, or following your dream of working for the federal government. Blessing others with your righteous knowledge is not the most effective way to go about it. However, we are writers. Our words are our power source, and knowledge-sharing can be a powerful beast, especially on social media. But use a blog for your discourse. Publish a well-researched article for a political magazine. Fight the good keyboard fight on your favorite political online communities. If you want to talk to your friends and family, do it in your own conversation or, GASP, in person.

7. You're Not An Expert (Unless You Are).

I’ve spoken my flawed opinion. I’ve shared irresistible articles as a fuck-you to anyone on the other side who may happen upon my political minefield. Did anyone thank me for showing them the light and helping them switch over? Did anyone shower me with appreciation for doing the right thing and speaking out against evil and corruption? No! Can you believe that? (Yes. Yes you can. Because politics is not my area of expertise. My area of expertise includes coming up with a variety of erotic descriptives for sex organs.)

You may have valid points. You may be well-educated and a great writer, so you feel it is your duty to PREACH the right side to those around you. You may just love to complain, and this is your therapy. Of course, if you have a PhD in political science, a master's in psychology, and a minor in philosophy, along with the professional experience working behind the scenes for the federal government, I may be interested enough to read what you have to say. If not, then don't try to educate through social media.

End of article. I'll leave you with a favorite quote of mine:

"Sometimes you just have to swallow your pride and ask for forgiveness."
-George Segal, The Goldbergs.


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