Today on Facebook, I saw multiple instances reminding me why I had to put aside my novel until the end of the year at least.
When I write stories, I work hard to present all of my characters as real people. In the case of my current novel, that meant that my progressive characters run over boundaries in their zeal to do the right thing. And it means that the characters who are blind to racist realities are also hospitable, helpful, and intelligent.
In fact, I was deeply invested presenting good down-home Christians as flawed but good-hearted people. After all, I came from them and I love them. I see big problems in their history and current perspectives, but at the same time, I could write them sympathetically because I know them.
At least, I thought I did.
But these are the people who are cluttering up my newsfeed with things like this:
This isn’t about whether Trump or Biden wins. I haven’t liked any of the options for two elections running. This hits me on a much more personal level.
Four years ago, I saw my people turn out in droves to vote for someone I thought they’d never ally themselves with. They traded principle for political power. That was a year of grief and disillusionment for me, yet I thought I still understood them. Then came this year, when I became aware of the ugly voices of conspiracy. The whispered lies have led people to spread fear and threats of violence as if it’s undisputable truth. My heart broke again. I don’t know my own people.
So my novel remains on a (digital) shelf for now. I hope that sometime soon I might once again know the people I came from.