Keeping it real?

I woke up this morning and found this in my blogger comments:

Anonymous has left a new comment on your post “Blurb from Ellen Wittlinger“:

“Without a bit of preaching…” – Why is it whenever anyone dares to take an unpopular position on a controversial moral topic in our society, their ideas are described as didactic, dogmatic, preachy, or any other apparently negative label? With all the destructive sexual activities and misinformation plaguing young adults in America, it would be immensely helpful if those with the power of the pen would use their gift to steer some attitudes in the right direction rather than be content with “keeping it real”.

Dear Anonymous (if you’re reading this),

I tend to ignore anonymous comments, but this one is actually interesting, so I plan to reply…but not today. I’m sorry, but I’m just too swamped with other things right now to reply, especially when I don’t even know who’s making the comment. However, you may want to drop a line to my editor; I’m sure he’d love to hear your thoughts on this matter. In addition, I would suggest emailing my friends as the AS IF blog; they commonly deal with issues such as yours. And of course, I have a lot of writer-friends, and they are welcome to post a reply of their own, if they wish.

And Anonymous, just for the purposes of discussion, could you please post a few books by authors that you consider to “use their gift to steer some attitudes in the right direction rather than be content with ‘keeping it real'”? Thanks.

6 Responses to “Keeping it real?”

  1. April Afloat

    Just to educate Anonymous: Novelists are storytellers. We don’t have power of the pen, and our job is not to steer anyone in any particular direction. Our job is to entertain and give pleasure to our readers. So, “keeping it real” is what we want to do. Also, people are a lot more important than issues.

  2. James

    Hello. I am Anonymous, but my friends call me Charles. I am a high school senior from Colorado. I don’t remember exactly how I got to your blog, but I was doing some research online and found the description of your new book interesting. I didn’t want to leave an anonymous comment, but that was the first time I had ever posted a comment on a blog, and I just didn’t want to have to sign up for an account. It wasn’t until after the post was submitted that I realized how to include my name. I guess I should have written another message to give my name then, but I thought, “I bet he doesn’t even read these comments, anyway.” Well, thanks for reading, and thanks for responding.

    Who says your job is not to steer anyone in any particular direction? Your craft is what you make of it. Why not use it for education, especially when your target audience is people my age. Don’t be afraid to lead your readers in a particular direction based on your beliefs. Or is it just that you don’t have any on this subject? Then why write about it? Anyone willing to write about a controversial subject in the first place should have the courage to take a stand on it.

    I don’t know about you, but I do not read books for entertainment. Most often, it is to learn something new. If I want to be entertained, I’ll go to a movie or play ball.

    I can’t think of a ton of good books, but I read “The Mouse Rap” when I was in eighth grade. It was on the lighter side, but it was cool. I think it also dealt with some important issues.

  3. Elisa's Mom


    Thanks for initiating this discussion. While I, like you, don’t choose books for their entertainment value, I recognize there are others who do.

    In reference to what Ms.Afloat wrote, I would argue that the great works of fiction — the lasting works — were written, not with an aim to entertain, but with an aim to inform, to enlighten, and to alter perceptions.

    And, James, if you’re in search of a great book to read, check out “Atonement” by Ian McEwan. Not a YA novel, but the protagonist is a teen. EXCELLENT read with plenty of hefty themes to think about.

  4. Elisa's Mom

    Oh, one thing I forgot to mention: “Atonement” does have some profanity and possibly one sexually-explicit scene (you’ll have to read the book to know why I say “possibly”).

    It’s been made into a movie to be released later this year, though it looks like the movie will focus more on the romance than on the larger theme of the novel…