Our role as writers, and the way we write varies with the social and economic times that we find ourselves in, and with who we are. That is, our writing reflects and rebels against the current inequalities, the current discourse, and our own economic oppression. It can take up the current struggles, and it speaks to the people we know – so a person who lives in a “first” world country will typically write for that audience, a person who experiences racism will often include that in their writing. Eduardo Galeano lived during and fled from a repressive dictatorship, where newspapers were shut down and the Internet didn’t yet exist, and his writing many decades after often revolves around that theme. His style rebels against deadpan propaganda, incorporating journalistic research with humanistic stories. His work as a journalist and activist saw him meet lots of interesting people, and their stories make their way into his.
Take a long view of history – do what we often do to writers or historical figures from centuries ago – looking at them as a war writer, or a woman writing when women didn’t – capturing and reducing their lives to just a few labels that make sense in a historical period. Look at yourself as a writer in a political and social context. But stand back and look as a student 200 years in the future might do.
What kind of writer are you, in economic, political, or social terms? What is your role? If it’s helpful, write as though you were this student 200 years from the future, a bio about yourself. Below, I’ve written up a template you could use and adjust. The idea of this exercise is to give your writing even more purpose, clarity, and even possibly give you ideas for future projects – projects this unjust world desperately needs. Understanding who you are as a writer can help how you write.
_____ was a ________ and ________ and _________. Born into a _____ family in ____adj___ ___country ____, ___name____ struggled with _____________. It was a ______ _________ time, so ________ took to writing about ________. S/he is now best known for ____________ …