The Age of Butthurt
I remember the glorious days when I would write happily and feel the creativity just gushing out onto the page. My stories (even the spooky ones) were simple and sweet, filled with all the freshness and excitement from clear eyes and an uncluttered mind. I wrote without inhibition. I wrote to entertain. I played in new lands of wonder and intrigue. There was so much freedom in my writing then, so much space for me to romp in, so many sentences I could lovingly craft. All I had to think about was the story.
Things are different now. Those of you who are familiar with book social media will know what I'm talking about. Those who aren't, well let's just say that there are lots of different things people find offensive in books these days. A very simple example: A name like Fanny was not a problem several decades back. Enid Blyton chose that name for one of the beloved characters in her mystery books. That name, however, has been changed to Frannie in later editions. Why? Well I suppose someone somewhere got butthurt at how inappropriate "Fanny" is.
Oh, for Pete's sake. Ooops, should I change Pete to something else? In case someone gets butthurt at that the use of that name too?
I'm not gonna elaborate on other heavier subjects that get some people's panties in a bunch. Because my soul is tired. Because I don't want to waste my time listening to people whinging. I have never been involved in the online battles I've seen. Just reading what's said makes me sick.
Nowadays, an issue that should be dealt with quietly and with tolerance can suddenly turn into a huge deal. Some parties send angry followers to wreak havoc that could continue for years. So much spite, so much hate, so much desire to "be right" and "win." So much virtue signalling, so much effort to stay relevant, and to appear woke. Yuck, yuck, yuck.
So now, in addition to remembering all the usual rules (grammar, format, citations, etc) of writing, there are other issues a writer has to keep in mind to not step on anyone's toes. Some days, I find this suffocating. I find the joy of writing diminishing. Fear and anxiety dominate, and the story is stunted.
I tell myself to treat all of this as background noise. That there are people out there who'll always look for things to feel unhappy about. That writing with abandon is my right. That avoiding social media is healthier. That writing from my heart is what I've always done. And it's how I will continue.