Last week I wrote a blog post about hypocrisy. It struck a nerve. Most of my posts get fewer than 100 views. When a post edges up over 200 views, I celebrate. In the first few days, “You Said This Was What You Wanted” registered nearly 40,000 views. My website crashed and crashed again. The last time I looked, the number of views had topped 87,000. I’m gobsmacked.
This is what you hope for when you send your writing out into the world. You hope people will read it and talk about it and share it with their friends. I’ve heard from a number of readers over the past week. I appreciate everyone who sent messages of support. I enjoyed hearing from people who disagreed with me or with some portion of the post. (Ted Nugent has some fans, y’all.) If everyone agreed on every little thing, the world would be a dull place indeed.
I also received more than a few messages asking me some variation of the following question: Who do you think you are? These are the people who believe (strongly) that I should keep my mouth shut. I’m not a celebrity. I’m not a scholar. I’m not a pundit. To quote Emily Dickinson: I’m nobody! Who are you?
Seriously, though, the people asking this question got me thinking: who do I think I am? I’ll tell you.
- I am a writer. I have one novel on the shelf and another slated for publication in 2018.
- I am a southerner. I was born and raised in Mississippi. The fact that I haven’t lived there in more than 25 years doesn’t make me any less southern.
- I am a woman. I like being a woman, but I don’t like that women are paid less than men. I don’t like that women have to work harder than men to get the same amount of respect. I don’t like being defined by my gender. I don’t like it when people refer to me as a writer of “women’s fiction.” No one is ever referred to as a writer of “men’s fiction.”
- I am married to a man. I have male friends who are also married to men. I have female friends who are married to women. I believe all of our marriages are equal. I don’t like people who argue otherwise.
- I am progressive. I hold liberal views. I am a lifelong Democrat, though the Democrats disappoint me all the damn time. I believe if you follow politics you should get comfortable with disappointment.
- In short, I am a human being who has opinions about the world. I have this little space I’ve carved out to share my opinions. You could carve out a little space for yourself and share your opinions too. That’s the truly great thing about America. Everyone has the right to speak. We don’t get to speak without consequences. We should expect dissenting opinions. Mostly we should welcome them. I believe we’re better off when we speak in a civil manner and don’t resort to threats, but I’ve been guilty of losing my temper and speaking my mind a bit too loudly. I’ve certainly resorted to cheap insults and people have rightly called me on it. No matter what else I think I am, I know I am a person with the right to speak. You have the right to speak too. I’ll keep using my voice. I’ll look forward to hearing some of your voices. This is why we live in the world, to learn from one another and to exchange ideas and to make connections.
Thanks for reading.