*It’s interesting. I’ve gone on becoming more and more myself, to the point the person who wrote this post feels like a stranger. I guess this makes a good “How it Begun.” – SAH*
Whole a blast from the past from November 2013
So I thought I’d give a report, only it’s not a report on the current state of my writing so much as on the current state of my psyche – and no, it’s not whining. In fact, it’s surprisingly not whining.
It’s almost exactly a year since I decided to throw caution and social manner to the winds and be myself as hard as I could on this blog, as well as everywhere else.
I’m not even absolutely sure how to characterize this “coming out” since I find being called “conservative” almost puzzling when my ideal state is almost a complete overturn of the current crony capitalism and also has bloody nothing to do with “conservative” in Europe which implies a belief in classes, etc. But I knew that when I decided to start talking about what I believe the “establishment” would characterize me as “conservative” and also, therefore, as “a bad person.”
Look, first, I’m going to point out that having to hide your opinions, political or otherwise, is likely the normal state of the human race. I’m not whining (or not much) except in comparison perhaps with an ideal state, where every man shall sit beneath his vine and his olive tree and no man shall make him afraid – something that has yet to happen in human life.
One of the unspoken conditions of getting a job is to pretend to be the sort of person that your employer would like to employ. This can mean something innocuous, like you’re the sort of person who is clean and polite and show up on time, but because humans are humans you pick people like you (or like what you want to be like) to associate with, so you’re likely to pick people on less tangible characteristics. It is not a slander to say that religious people might prefer someone of their religion. Throughout history, immigrant communities have preferred to hire someone of their own ethnicity. And people who’ve gone to the “correct” colleges and hold the “correct” opinions are likely to hire the same. Which is what we’re faced with in the writing community.
It only seems strange because it’s so uniform, and there used to be almost no refuge. That is a side effect of both the concentration of publishing into a very few houses and of the “long march” that the extreme left has engaged in in this country. (Very long – if we’re to believe Heinlein, and I do, then they were in a fair way to taking over one of the major parties in the thirties.)
To me, too, hiding my opinions was perfectly normal. Look, guys, if I hadn’t learned the fine art of double think, there’s a good chance I wouldn’t have survived my high school years, let alone emerged from college with a degree in the liberal arts. I just pretended, when answering the questions that they were set in a separate universe, where Marxism works.
So when I started trying to break into writing, I didn’t consciously think of hiding my opinions, but I also didn’t go out of my way to rub anyone’s nose in them. And then, after I’d broken in and talked to some editors – including the surreal conversation with the one who thought libertarians wanted to ban the internal combustion engine (and also were close kin to Satan) – I started not only purposely hiding my politics but laying in a trail of confusion and razzle dazzle both in my works and out of it.
Mind you, my opinions are “diverse” enough. As most of you know I have no issues with gay marriage, but I do have an issue with forcing churches to perform it. I can see euthanasia being legalized as a personal decision (none of my business, even if I’d try to talk a friend out of it) but hate the idea of the creep (people who are allowed to euthanize while depressed/mentally ill) and also of the state (or even the establishment) convincing people to do this “for the good of others.” I won’t say I don’t have an issue with abortion – in terms of “war on women” the health issues that attend it, the SOCIETAL issues that attend it, and the almost universal pressure to sanctify it are pretty icky. I’ve talked about it on this blog, and I don’t intend to go there again. I think the whole “you’re a human if mommy says so” corrodes our civil liberties. I also think it’s almost impossible to stop before ten weeks, and the whole idea of a regulatory apparatus to stop it completely makes me queasy. In my more annoyed moments I wonder if the regulatory apparatus to stop the murder of ADULTS is worth is.
Beyond that, it’s a gut thing. I was raised “pro choice” – no other option since I grew up in Europe and all the bien pensant were “pro choice” – but I haven’t called myself that since the first time I got pregnant. Personal. Internal. Intense. Let it go.
However, the way the establishment works, it doesn’t matter how many things you agree with them on, if you don’t agree with them on something, then you are Satan. It is, I think, the result of being a small, insular society, no different from a tiny village in an isolated region. They are afraid of the stranger and those who are different.
So I learned to play on the opinions I shared with them and not mention the ones I didn’t. The fact that they tend to assume “all smart people agree with me” helped me greatly. As did the fact they believe “conservatives” froze sometime between the nineteenth century and the fifties. The fact I think women have minds, the fact I believe melanin has nothing to do with capacity to perform intellectual tasks. If I touted those, I was immediately assumed to be “one of the good people.”
Not enough, mind. I was never willing to parrot the whole party line enough to become one of the precious darlings. That’s fine. But it was enough to keep publishing in a broad spectrum of houses. And I didn’t go so far, I couldn’t look at myself in the mirror.
I confess I didn’t realize how much pressure I’d been under. I used a nom de blog to comment on political blogs (and cause mischief.) I was in the background of several discussions as the Dan Rather thing unraveled for instance. But in the daylight world, I pretended never to read anything outside Main Stream media.
Then Toni Weisskopf, who had been talking to me ABOUT Puppet Masters asked if I wanted to write the afterword to the re-edition of the book.
There’s no way I could pass that up, even if it meant outing myself. In fact, at the time I remember thinking “Should I?” then I thought “Come on, how many of them will read Heinlein?”
As it turns out surprisingly few. In fact, each step in this “coming out” was attended with a few more whispers, but nothing overt, until a year ago when I finally started seeing doors overtly shut in my face. Which is fine. I knew what I was doing.
It still comes as a LONG journey. Four years ago, I practically spit coffee on my monitor when I saw my name mentioned on Instapundit (turned out to be about one of my books.) The last year I’ve now and then helped out when Glenn is on vacation… And yet it was only when I decided not to stay away from politics on this blog that people got upset. And frankly the posts they get REALLY upset about are the anti-Marxist ones. (All the while assuring me they are NOT Marxist and that Marxism is dead. Guys, historians are going to have a field day with our time. If enough civilization survives that there are historians.)
Have doors shut off? Well, yes. Though nothing overtly enough that I could tell you “this is because I came out.” — I think in the modern day, discrimination, whether from the left or right, is more subtle than that, which is why people feel the need to fake overt discriminatory episodes. They know it’s there, and they can’t prove it, and they go unhinged – and frankly, with the advent of indie at the same time, the couple of doors that shut off were a blessing in disguise – it meant I had SOME time to go indie in, in addition to my work for Baen.
So – a year in, what has my final throwing open of the ideological closet doors meant?
Externally, not much. Indie gave me the ability to do what a friend had advised and I couldn’t do YEARS ago: a) never work for people I don’t respect. B) don’t write something just because you can sell it and you need the money.
Even if I hadn’t come out politically, my external demeanor would be the same, because… indie.
Internally… it’s a whole other matter. I didn’t realize, honestly, I didn’t, how much effort it took just to hold up the false front. Imagine that you have to go through an entire day holding up one of those Greek theater masks in front of your face with your right hand. Everything you do is with your left, and you can’t shift your arm, you don’t have flexibility to rest that hand, you don’t—
Like that. But over years and years. The brain space devoted to playing chess with potential would-be guessers of my real opinion, and more importantly, the brain space required to not say something I couldn’t live with while not openly dissenting, were driving me batty, and I didn’t even know it.
Mind you, I wasn’t even any good at dissembling. I’ve since found that everything I think shows on my face (which explains so much.)
BUT just keeping this side of open opposition was taking so much nervous energy that it’s a miracle I could write at all.
A year later? A year after being able to admit to my own thoughts in public? How does it feel?
Well, it feels very strange – you have to remember I grew up in an environment where most of my beliefs are beyond heretical. It’s the habit of a life time. – Sometimes I put up posts, and this will be one of them (note I’m putting it up the day before Thanksgiving with blog traffic in the tank. I’m brave, but not crazy.) – and wait for the blow to fall and cringe at the screaming that will surely start.
But it also feels… well… the way to describe it is that I have more room to be myself in. It’s like I grew up in a little box and now for the first time I can stretch out.
I feel – whole. That would be the best way to describe it. Just whole.
So – is that worth it? I mean, I don’t go out of my way to yell my politics at the hairdressers, in the grocery store, on the street (okay, I do shout at certain bumper stickers, but I always did! And it’s in the privacy of my own car) or in social occasions. BUT when I’m having a discussion with someone, I can let my reason go where it will and not be afraid it will endanger my livelihood.
And when I’m writing, I don’t have to think “How does this belief sound if I were a NYC liberal?” I can let the writing flow, and be what it needs to be.
That alone – that alone is worth it. A thousand times yes. It’s not a luxury most human beings have been able to have throughout history.
The great artists of the past, and the great writers too, were all hemmed in on politics and had to step carefully.
But we’ve come to a point I couldn’t keep quiet any longer. We might be playing for all the civilizational chips. And it feels very good not to be on the sidelines. And mostly – from a personal point of view – it feels good to be whole and to be myself as hard as I can.
32 thoughts on “Whole a blast from the past from November 2013”
How did your Prometheus Award for Darkship Thieves fit into this? Does getting a Prometheus Award have an effect on a writer’s career? (I could see that it might not, as I’ve seen people saying that they can’t identify any consistent political stance in the LFS’s award choices. So maybe no one thinks that getting an award identifies you as libertarian?)
Actually it did. It got me a lot of fans. BUT the politics didn’t affect it.
Occasionally it is amazing how easily they assume you agree.
I feel your “coming out”, I’m a photog. and had an interesting experience with some clients a few years back, during “Trump”. blessings be upon him. I basically got shit canned for my conservative ideals, lost 2 good accounts and have since been living with the realization, that people are easily brainwashed and most prefer to parrot what the other”monkeys” tell them to parrot ( think, see, hear, say), I do my “own” work now and feel much better about expressing my ideas. thanks for clarifying it
When they will burn you no matter what you do, it liberates you to do the right thing. I told this to a union president once.
Interesting post. Two things jump out at me. One is that your writing style, which is nice and personal, is the same, hasn’t changed. The second thing that jumped out at me is the bit about your two rules: never working for someone you don’t respect, and not just writing for money. Good ones. The difference between when you said that, and now, is that (and I’m not talking about you here, ‘cause I don’t know what connections you might or might not have in the publishing biz) … now… myself and others… we don’t have that choice, ‘trad’ or ‘indie’. In my case, it’s either publish ‘indie’ or be shut out. Of course the Left will lie and say, ‘you’re books are not good enough, so stop whining and write a better book.’ Well that’s bullshit. My books are better than 99% of what comes out of Big NYC Publishing (whore) Houses. And… if I wanted to be ‘trad published,’ like I was back in the day, I could write a damn good novel, but it would have to push the current religion and its sacrments. And that ain’t gonna happen.
Well, I’ll leave you now ‘cause I have to push my latest book, Escape From the Future and Other Stoies,’ ‘cause it’s FREE today until Sunday eve. It is, I believe, something everyone on here will like.
Please check it out and tell a friend. I’m hoping to get on the literature radar screen with this one. Best!
Thanks for the heads-up on your book! I will be reading it starting this afternoon and will leave a review.
Thank you! And if you like it, please tell others.
Got it. Thank you for posting the name (link didn’t show through). Will leave a review when done.
Just got the KU version – that, as least, has the potential to eventually make you some cash.
But, thanks for the suggestion. I was running on empty for fictional reading material.
Thank you for downloading it. If you like it, please share it with the folks on here. I appreciate it.
The book I didn’t write:
I am OK. You suck.
– Human interaction in the 21st Century
Pop Psych Book, I’m sure it would be a NYT best seller, if only you were woke enough. /laugh
Wasn’t that a George Carlin line? Something about writing a book called “I’m OK, you’re an asshole!”?
I will take that as a compliment.
My original title was
“I’m ok. You’re an ass”
…Wait, we’ve been friends how long? I’m trying to remember if you were willing to put up with my butt before or after coming out of the political closet.
Before. But we talked about it in private.
As the saying goes, “You might as well be yourself because everyone else is already taken ”
But people, in general, have been afraid to be unique and stick to their guns. And this day in age it can have massive repercussions to earning a livelyhood.
Thank you, Sarah, for standing up and showing how it’s done and that their power is NOT so great as TPTB would have us believe.
You will probably never know on this side of Heaven how what you have done has stiffened the spines and screwed down the resolve of those of us not even in the publishing world but with similar concerns.
Never work for someone you don’t respect…
This is why I’m so glad I was able to leave the higher-ed arena. Prior to 2016, it was hard enough holding my tongue amid the “liberal” conformity, but things broke after that. I already knew I was in a dead-end job (because of politics/insufficient belief? Maybe, but not necessarily; it was a crappy situation anyway), but amid the progressive hysteria of 2016 onward, I started to feel like I was recruiting innocent victims into an abusive cult.
I still didn’t speak my mind, although I guess I could have, since I had already done the quiet quitting thing by that time and had a virtually zero-work job anyway. But there were coworkers who might not have given me the good references I needed to get out (not that I was thinking of that, at least consciously). Just shared occasional observations sotto voce with the only other liberty-minded coworker I knew of and otherwise kept my mouth shut. If there was anyone else besides the two of us, they were far, far deeper under cover than I was.
Let me tell you, working for the enemy is a soul-crushing thing. Can’t even express how glad I am to have landed at a business that actually makes things — and not mere widgets, but Important Things that keep civilization running — and hasn’t gone full progtard (or really any degree of prog, although recent lip service to DIE and the climate cult are making me uneasy). With any luck, I’ll never be in that position again.
Well, see, uh, er, that is to say… how shall I put this?
Oh yes: Moo.
Damn, Ox, you sure you want to publicly commit like that? I’d have played my cards a little closer to the vest. 😛
I’m to a point where with exceptions I just don’t bother. Exceptions are the youngsters in the family. So far even them, as they’ve hit over 30, gotten married, and started having children, they’ve moved to more conservative. Bit different to have heart and share more than you maybe want to (because liberals) and have that forced sharing be out of the mouths (or hands) or your babies. With them the fastest way to get the younger (young 20 somethings) to think is to state “I only have to live with this for the next 30 years” without adding “If I’m allowed to”, implying someones else might force that choice (kind of puts their stubbornness into play as “don’t be dramatic”, kind of is, kind of isn’t), adding “You have to live with it for another 60 to 70 years. Choose wisely.”
With certain people who I follow on FB, I’ve learned they are way on the other side of the spectrum, but I don’t feel like I have to educate them. Nothing I’m going to say is going to make a smidgen of difference. They are not particularly politically influential. I just don’t have to react. The relationship to the people involved aren’t one where they can corner me and demand my perspective, whether we’ve met or not. Some are former co-workers. Were I not retired, in these times, it might have come down to that, but as it stands, not happening. But the others, there are reasons I follow them, it does not involve their politics.
Other discussion groups, be it FB or not, are explicitly non-political. Politics are shutdown hard. I’m good with that.
I’m at the point where the only university that would hire me might be Hillsdale, or one of the hard-core Christian colleges (and then I wouldn’t pass the religious orthodoxy requirement). I try to present all sides when I teach politics and current events, because that’s what you are supposed to do. My job isn’t to make people just like me (isn’t that a scary thought!).
Raises paw. Fellow member-of-blog-that-shall-not-be-named, still use that screen name for some things.
Now I ponders a Huns/Hoydens University and an entrance test for faculty…
“Rejected? But I scored over 90% on the Wokeness Test?!”
“No, you scored UNDER 10% on the Head Not Up Arse Test. Goodbye.”
Interesting. Never commented there, but I did follow for quite some time (although it’s been months since I’ve been there). If it’s the blog I’m thinking of, that guy is an ass, but he is very perceptive about some things…and he’s a builder, which is a good thing.
No. Not that one. There’s nothing there and it tastes bad.
It’s easy to say what’s wrong, but the solutions are all bad.
She’s talking about Poor Charlie who lost his mind in the blog wars.
All I can say is bless you for this, Sarah. Your blog in all its crazed glory has kept me sane on more than one occasion.
Same here. And I’d add that this seems a perfect time for this repost, and for the message that “you are not alone”.
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