I’m Writing About That?

A vague and random series of thoughts, for which I apologize in advance.

I was emailing with someone this morning about the final book in my series about political staffers, The Easy Part, and I realized that the series is about me. It’s not about me in the sense that any of the heroines is based on me; nothing that happens in the books happened to me. But it is about my experience as an older Millennial coming to political consciousness in the late 90s.

I’ve written before about how many of my early memories are political, but I think I’ve also been working through the later stuff. What does it mean to come to political consciousness during the age of Clinton? To vote for the first time in the election of 2000? (Which is both why I always vote and why I’m deeply cynical about the process.) To fall for a candidate–either George Bush or Barack Obama–and then to watch him either fail to implement the vision he articulated during the campaign at all or to seriously compromise his values?

I don’t think Millennials are unique in this regard. Surely younger Baby Boomers who voted for the first time in the late 1960s, witnessed Vietnam and then Watergate followed by the cynical 1970s had a parallel development among other generations. But the blend of hope and cynicism in all of The Easy Part novels and the looking for personal and professional compromise that occurs in all of those books feels of this moment to me in a way that I didn’t realize until now.

I don’t mean to be pretentious about my work at all. But now that I’ve finished a series and am starting to plan another one, I can see what I’m writing about in a way I couldn’t before.

10 thoughts on “I’m Writing About That?

  1. I don’t think it’s pretentious to have realizations about your writing. Here’s some political pretension for you; Hegel wrote that “The owl of Minerva spreads its wings only with with the falling of the dusk.” It’s not surprising that, with some time and distance from your trilogy, you’ve come to understand what unconscious forces may have driven it. Though channelled in so many interesting ways ;-) Can’t wait to read the next two books!

    1. No one out pretenses Hegel; he wouldn’t allow it. He would rise from the grave and write something more pretentious in response just to spite you.

      The second book is maybe the most hopeful and optimistic of the three but the third book, probably because it has an election backdrop, is pretty cynical. I don’t even think I realized how cynical until this morning, but the more I thought about it, the more I was like, “Of course it is. The 2000 election, 9/11, the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, “enhanced interrogation,” George Bush, and then the disappointment of Obama supporters. Of course it’s dark.” ; )

      1. Hah, I was jiggling with laughter over your Hegel comment. Gosh, I remember slogging through that in LibArts. Groan. Glad those days are over. Marx felt like Hegel-lite.

        “The disappointment of Obama supporters” is more than American. I remember showing my ethics students his speech in Egypt: so hopeful for us all and so eloquent. Look at where we are now … and certainly Canada’s years in Afghanistan with our automaton of a PM are no better; we have much to think about as another election looms and the choices are, to be generous, somewhat “vacant.”

  2. The equivalent romance for someone of my generation and nationality would be Rosy Thornton’s More Than Love Letters although since she’s not me, some of her preoccupations, and some things about the context, differ from mine.

    1. Oh man that looks like a great book. I’m adding it to the TBR!

      (And to be clear, I’m certain lots of writers have explored the same issues I have, probably much more insightfully. I just realized today that the series did have ideas that run through all three books and that there are reasons for those meditations–which are sort of terribly obvious and I’m embarrassed it took me so long to see them.)

      1. I don’t know of any other romance authors who’ve explored those issues. Whether there are other US authors of your age writing about those themes in other genres I don’t know, since I don’t read them. Maybe on TV?

        I suspect that in a way it’s better you didn’t see them earlier: it might have made you introspective about yourself rather than letting your unconscious pour the themes into the books. Of course, I could be wrong: my subconscious is not at all subtle and if I tried to write fiction it would probably end up being allegories or updated fairy tales.

  3. I absolutely suspect you’re right that if I had tried to work those themes in, it would have been heavy-handed. (Though maybe it’s heavy-handed anyway. Ha!) I wasn’t thinking romance per se, though I wouldn’t be surprised if some romances strike us as post-911 once we’ve had a bit more space to see it (particularly SEAL and military-themed ones) But definitely there are bunch of TV shows that address the idea of contemporary political consciousness–Veep maybe foremost among them. I also think it’s been a key theme for some literary writers. My favorite political consciousness post-911 book is The Terror Dream by Susan Faludi, which is overstated in places but terribly insightful.

    1. There’s already some romance scholarship on sheikh and SEAL romances post 9/11. And there might be some more in Jayashree Kamble’s forthcoming book but I don’t know for sure. It’ll apparently be dealing with war in the 20th and 21st centuries in romance, so it seems likely.

      1. I can’t wait to read that chapter! When I taught my romance novel course, I ended up taking the SEAL romance off the syllabus in favor of steampunk (which was a good choice because my students loved The Iron Duke), but I think it’s a fascinating subject. I think you’d love The Terror Dream. Again, sometimes her claims go too far, but it’s a terrific take on American pop culture post-9/11.

        And Miss Bates, it would be impossible for me to deal with my sadness over the Obama presidency in a series of ten books, let alone three–which is probably why the president never shows up in my books at all. ; )

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