WRITER AS AN OPINION MAKER.
Every writer has an inbuilt value system which gets reflected in his/ her writing. To that extent , every writer influences readers and hence is an opinion maker. However , the trouble begins when a writer espouses a particular cause through his/ her writings and through the mass media. I am using the word trouble only in the context of its potential damage to the cause and to the creative writing that the writer pursues in all earnestness. There is ( or there can ever be) no trouble with the writer , as an individual , championing any cause of his/ her choice. However , it is troublesome when that advocacy creeps into that writers creative writing. Let us examine why it is so.
As far as creative writing is concerned ,every creative writing is imbued with values that are integral to the emotional ecosystem of the writer. This is inevitable. It is inevitable because its expression in creative writing is governed by subconscious mind. Therefore critics try to deconstruct creative writings of an author ( or creative writings of any given time period) to understand the nature of creative processes( or the social transformations). Thus critics provide frame of reference in which these writings must be appreciated. When a writer chooses to espouse a particular cause in a conscious manner and tries to smuggle that into his/ her creative writing, it mars the final product. However one may define good literature , one must admit that any attempt to inject some external doctrine into that would inevitably lead to compromising the literary merits of that writing. By and large , great names in literature have eschewed such tendencies.
However , the situation is quite different when it comes to advocacy for various causes by writers outside of their creative writings. When writers( particularly the famous ones) openly advocate for their favorite causes , they end up causing semantic confusion in their followers minds. This is not to suggest that these individuals ought not to have strong belief in some social causes . They ,like everyone else , can have their social preferences and ideological leanings. They ought to pursue them with commitment and sincerity , but only in one’s personal capacity. This can be in several forms viz. in the form of voting for particular political party or in the form of contribution to the agencies active in that domain or in the form of devoting their productive time for that cause. However the trouble begins when they try to leverage their fame and goodwill earned through their creative writing to influence their readers. This undermines not just the reader’s ability to judge the relative merits of the issues involved but it also undermines the intrinsic value of the cause itself. This , in my opinion , is unethical. Let me clarify . I am convinced that these writers would be justified in articulating a reasoned expression of their cause in the form of serious critical writings. However , such writings must be based on scholarship and analytical thinking. Anything in the form of propaganda and strident posturing would obfuscate the the whole issue. The original cause would not be served by the advocacy of such writers.
I think this tendency to champion a particular cause in creative writers arises due to category mistake. Being creative individuals , these writers are gifted with insights into human nature. However , in my opinion , being insightful is not same as being wise. As a writer one can have insights into inner workings of our emotional ecosystem, one can not confuse that with wisdom. Creative writing is an innate skill not subject to analytical deconstruction. It is an opaque ability. It does not necessarily make one wiser. Just as a good painter need not necessarily be a good optometrist , a good creative writer need not be man of wisdom. However , many writers make this category mistake and convince themselves to be wise persons. In my opinion , creative writing is strictly a private exercise and one must preserve its sanctity. In fact , that is the reason why I have chosen to write under a penname.
Finally , such an advocacy conflicts with the very process of creative writing. In the final analysis , the advocacy for any particular cause requires certain evangelical zeal. This is possible only when one is blind to certain logical arguments antithetical to the cause that one wishes to espouse. This intellectual blindness to uncomfortable aspects of the cause is in direct conflict with creative writing. Creative writing begins with the premise that the writer would pursue deconstruction of human mind through literary devices that his/ her sensibility can create. The writer remains faithful to this deconstruction even if it leads to uncomfortable insights into his/ her mind as well as that of the society he/ she lives in. The creative writing is an act of moral courage of facing and owning these insights however uncomfortable they may be. This willingness to be a contrarian is in direct conflict with the evangelical zeal that is a prerequisite for advocacy for the cause.
This sums up my own view on the role of creative writer as an opinion maker.