Before I start this article, I realize that the subject of “crop cancellation” is not always easy to tackle. That is why, for the purposes of this article, I am going to express my point of view in terms of creative writing, as I have noticed that the “undo culture” is gaining ground in the publishing industry. .
Recently, a Christian author was taken away from an award she had won. His book had aroused controversy among some readers and even among authors. Elements of the book, At Love’s Command by Karen Witemeyer, focus on the genocide, and readers and authors alike believed that it “romanticized” the genocide of Native Americans.
I haven’t read the book so can’t give a review, but the very fact that its award was revoked due to the perceptions of others made me think: how free can writers be? with their history? Should an author now start to think through every word he constructs to make sure that he doesn’t offend anyone because he doesn’t want to ruin his career? And, if you’re in this industry, you know that overthinking isn’t an author’s best friend; it can put blocks in the way rather than allowing the story to unfold. Do authors now have to change their genre, for example from contemporary to historical, because they don’t want to be forced to put characters in their books that they don’t want?
While what is perceived as a ‘culture of cancellation’ can be positively empowering, in terms of addressing the intentional harm or abuse caused to others and holding them accountable, it can also have devastating effects on others. the livelihood of someone, who just has a different opinion, or has made mistakes in the past, really has remorse and wants to be forgiven. A career that can take a year or more to build can be destroyed overnight.
Where does that leave authors and creative writing? Will their freedom to express their stories be taken away from them? What Can Authors Do? Since this is a new journey we are embarking on, writers need all the support they can get from each other, so I suggest finding a group of writers, where opinions can be shared freely and confidentially. If you are not self-published, it is important to get the support of your editor or agent. But keep in mind that editors who work in publishing houses may have corporate procedures to follow. In the event of disagreement, it is not always true that publishers are not on the author’s side; they just don’t want to risk being “canceled” either.
Ultimately, authors should continue to allow the flow of writing freedom. There are so many kinds of books that can appeal to everyone. There is no need to cancel a writer just because a person does not agree with what they have written, or because they have a different perception of the book.
I don’t believe it’s a writer’s job to do harm on purpose. If an author includes characters from a different background, it is so important that careful research is done so that the portrayal of the character is authentic.
If there’s one scene in the story that readers don’t agree with and voice their views, I don’t think they should be dismissed either. Authors should take the time to recognize their readers’ point of view and perhaps explain to them why a scene, story, or book is written as it is. The connection with the reader doesn’t have to end in a heated exchange, but knowing when to end the conversation if it veers in another direction. It is not always possible to do this every time, especially when the author is well known, however, I think it is now even more important than ever for authors and readers to engage. Despite the negative aspects, social media can also be used in a positive way, where no one needs to be left out.
Written by: Vanessa Grossett