Wednesday, October 26, 2011

The Honesty Of "Writers for the 99%"

I have written before about the importance of recognizing that as writers we need to be cognizant of the fact that simply by observing an event we are affecting the event, and we should do our best to be honest about this fact with our readers.

A new book is coming out soon called "Occupying Wall Street: The Inside Story of an Action that Changed America" which attempts to explain what the movement was all about and what (if anything) it hoped to accomplish. The authors of the book call themselves "Writers for the 99%" and make no effort at concealing the fact they fully support the movement. In fact, it's a part of their marketing effort.

This is a far cry from writers who clearly have an agenda but are reluctant to make that agenda open for public scrutiny. As writers we walk a fine line between full disclosure and complete fabrication. I say a fine line because there is almost always an element of fabrication in even the most carefully scrutinized manuscript; not every detail is revealed to us as writers, leaving us to fill in some of the less impactful details. The more upfront we are about this fact, the more trusting the readers will become.

As a writer I often find myself re-inventing history as I go along. This is not new. Writers do this all the time and it's perfectly acceptable. What is NOT acceptable is tricking the reader into believing that what they are receiving is a perfect representation of what happened. In the end, anything which first goes through the filter of a human mind will always come out the other end slightly skewed.

That's a fact.
The book has already found a publisher, progressive OR Books, whose co-founder Colin Robinson spoke with HuffPo yesterday about the intentions of the book and the mechanics of writing collectively.

“This is also not a neutral book, it’s a book in support of the occupation…We really want to give the feel of being involved in the action, and that extraordinary feeling of solidarity that you get when you go into the park,” said Robinson on writers’ intentions.

Robinson says the book will inevitably be written by a group, but that since the goal is to create a narrative, not just to reprint interviews, what enters the final copy will be determined by a smaller group of editors and writers. “You can’t have consensus over every sentence of the book, obviously.”

When asked if the book would function as a “How To” guide to occupations, a sort of guidebook from the source material, Robinson said yes, that it would be a large part of it would be describing the “quotidian detail of what’s happening there” – how the general assembly runs, the collective kitchen, donations, etc.

Click here to read more about the "Writers for the 99%"

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