WHAT I’M THINKING
Mixing Politics with Prose
I cannot believe that it was fourteen years ago when my first novel, Without Grace, was published. So much has happened professionally, personally and politically since then. It was also around the time that Arianna Huffington invited me to blog for her brainchild, Huffington Post. I was thrilled to have a place to share my thoughts on the publishing industry, including reviewing books, what was going on personally, and how I felt about the state of politics. Some people, though, felt I, as an author, shouldn’t share my opinions about the last-mentioned. One woman in particular scolded me on Facebook, telling me I would hinder sales of my book if I did so. I had already considered that but felt I couldn’t keep quiet about so many of the issues occurring then. My writing was important to me and I wanted people to discover it; however, the unsettling affairs of what was going on in the world was more important. Yet, in reality, I was a no name and who really cared what I thought?
That leads me to address the idea of those who have a megaphone, so to speak, and share their opinions on what’s happening in our world. Sports figures who take a knee, actors and actresses who call out what they view as wrongs while accepting an award and even politicians who criticize the president are often rebuked, being told they shouldn’t use their voice to express their thoughts. But should they forfeit their right to speak because they have a recognizable name? Should they just play football, or memorize their lines, or turn their back to what they see as injustice gone wild because of who they are? While there are some notable folks I wish would keep quiet when I don’t agree with what they are saying, I think it would be undemocratic to silence anyone from the right to free speech. But we should have the right to challenge without recrimination.
The thing is, there are so many people who don’t have the means to share their thoughts because they are, like me, a no name, but care deeply about how the prejudices and hatred affects them and those around them. This is why I applaud when Colin Kaepernick takes a knee knowing it could be a career-changer, when Meryl Streep, at the Golden Globes, speaks out against the vitriol that the president stirs, or when Stephen King takes to Twitter to challenge the racism coming from the highest office in the land. So far, unfortunately, their actions and voices haven’t seemed to temper the abundance of hatred we are witnessing on a daily basis, but the real enemy is silence, so we must all raise our voices, no matter who we are, to put the brakes on the hatred and prejudice. Because, for what it’s worth, it seems history is repeating itself and that makes me want to scream. But my voice alone is not enough.
It’s been a little over two months since my business partner and I had to close the bookstore/wine bar since we could no longer keep using our retirement money to keep it afloat. The decision was both difficult and easy. We loved having the bookstore but didn’t love that we lost so much money trying to keep it afloat. During the four years that we were opened, I still had my other business, Carol Hoenig Publishing Consultant, Inc. Between that and the bookstore left me little time for reading for pleasure and writing. I had started working on my fourth novel, a prequel to Without Grace, while my agent tried to sell my third novel. So far, the rejections were wonderful, but they are still rejections. But that’s another story. Or maybe it’s just the same old story. Yet, life goes on.
Now without the store, I am busier than ever with my business, but I have found more time to read for pleasure. I am constantly reading works-in-progress, or books needing publicity, but reading for fun has been a challenge when owning my own business. (Speaking of reading books that need publicity, I’m working with Jan Alexander for her novel, Ms. Ming’s Guide to Civilization, and highly recommend it.) I’ve also yet to get back to writing on my prequel but believe that will occur all in good time. Therefore, thought I’d share what I’ve read over the last couple of months with a very brief thought of what I thought about the book here:
Don’t Let’s Go to the Dogs Tonight by Alexandra Fuller: I’ve been wanting to read this for so long and it was the first book I picked up since closing the bookstore. The writing was wonderful, even though living in Africa for Alexandra and her family was not easy. I highly recommend it, though.
J.W. Valentine by Barbara Novack: I’ve known Barbara for quite some time and even spoke to her students about writing. She’s a good writer but I had some questions regarding one aspect of this work.
Saving Sadie: How a Dog That No One Wanted Inspired the World by Joal Derse Dauer with Elizabeth Ridley. It’s a story of triumph, one that made me question if I could have invested all that the author did to save this dog’s life.
Inherit the Wind by Jerome Lawrence and Robert C. Lee: I have a collection of screenplays from a book I had from high school and have wanted to read this one for ages. I’ve watched the movie with Spencer Tracy and found it riveting. The screenplay is just as riveting and dare I say timely, even though it was written so long ago about the Scopes Trial. I’m going to select this one for my book discussion group, which is something else I couldn’t host when I had the bookstore.
The Underground Railroad by Colson Whitehead: What a heartbreaking book. Humans are just evil beings. As a country, we not only have blood on our hands, we have it on our souls. Not only for today’s atrocities but the past’s, as well.
The Inner Life of Animals by Peter Wohlleben: What an interesting time for me to have read this book since I have been watching and caring for Roxy, (min-pin) Harpo (Tibetan spaniel mix) and Chelsea (long-haired dachshund) while my daughters and their husbands traveled in Scotland and England. The book didn’t cover much about domesticated animals but was still very interesting. It makes me want to be a vegetarian, but I find it difficult to accomplish.
Yesterday, I just cracked open Less by Andrew Sean Greer so no thoughts on that just yet.
So that’s it for now. I am going to try to write here at least once a week and the posts won’t be quite as long but I had a lot to share here. Thanks for reading!
Carol’s essays, articles, book reviews and short stories appear in a wide number of publications. Carol likes to stir things up by blogging for The Huffington Post covering politics, culture, the publishing industry and the writing life. Carol also contributed to PUTTING YOUR PASSION INTO PRINT written by Arielle Eckstudt & David Henry Sterry. Arianna Huffington invited Carol to contribute to ON BECOMING FEARLESS, released in the fall of 2006. Tory Johnson, ABC’s Good Morning America’s workplace contributor, also invited Carol to submit an essay for her New York Times Bestseller, WILL WORK FROM HOME. Stephanie Gunning invited Carol to submit an essay on creativity for her anthology AUDACIOUS CREATIVITY. Carol’s short story, Snow Angels and Somersaults, was a finalist for the 2007 Spring/Summer Glass Woman Prize, a bi-annual prize for women prose writers. Her essay, “Wild Horses and Young Stallions” was selected for the recently released anthology LOST LESSONS FROM LIFE ON A FARM.
You can follow her on Twitter @authorsguide and “like” her on Facebook.
A Collection of Carol’s Works Available Online:
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