Instead of “Why Me?” Can We Do “What If?”

My mind is so bored. I wish to be inspired. Help me!

I’m having a hard time working through contemporary fiction novels as of late. Once the story gets going, I feel less involved and more talked down. Once the story reaches it’s epoch, I feel a, ‘yeah, so?’ instead of an investment. Endings leave me thinking, ‘and so…now what?’

These modern day stories are yawns. Where’s the wisdom? Why so much celebration of ‘why me’? Have we completely eradicated the fundamental purpose of storytelling, that is, to impart wisdom among our community then carry forward as knowledge-empowered people? It feels like that to me.

I won’t divulge which authors I have been reading nor titles, because that wanders into the role of “book reviewer.” I respect you are a person of intellect, capable of free will and imagination who can make decisions (such as whether a book is good or not) on your own. I will let you know these books are all modern setting (20th century to now), modern language, modern places, fictional stories, and have either received international acclaim or blockbuster movie status.

I feel it undeserved.

In every contemporary fiction work I’ve read lately, each author has demonstrated a promotion of the Why Me, and some successfully demonstrate some movement beyond the Why Me. To those writers I ask, could you teach us how to move beyond the Why Me? Just because you can voice it through character and exposition doesn’t mean you’ve provided a resolution. For me, I feel nothing is out there which is helping us move beyond the fears of our ancestors. Some writers attempt to move us forward but only within the afterward or in book release interviews. Never in the work!

When I digest a contemporary modern day fiction novel, I frame the question, “what does this author want me to know?” The award-winning, movie rights selling authors I just read want me to know:

  1. White people are scared of Black people
  2. Black people hate other Black people
  3. Women rather keep silent
  4. Men are afraid no one likes them
  5. Americans know there is a struggle and I have the right to say, “Oh yeah, I feel that way about that issue too!”
  6. Other nations hate Americans

The authors I despise most are those who write deeply on the cruelties of racism, as opposed to writing deeply on rising above racism. Within more than a few novels, I sensed the writer was at a pivotal arc during composition, leaned back in his/her writing chair, vigorously tapping the tip of a pen to his/her tightened mouth, plotting: “If we actually solve racism, then there can’t be any money made on racism, now can it? Why solve it when I can get rich exacerbating racism? Huzzah!” Then he/she takes off rabidly composing the next New York Times Bestseller. To me, if all you write about is racist activities, novel to novel to novel, then you must LOVE racism and want to keep it going! If you’re not a racist, can you demonstrate for the racist rest of us how to grow beyond it in modern times? No? Then stop writing about it. You’re not helping.

Okay, that was a slight rant.

Storytellers, I challenge you to promote the What If? If you wish to demonstrate strife, give us an experiential aspect, not your dream world aspect. I would like to experience writing in which the author has actually taken the time to do leg work, meaning, put yourself in the shit you want to write about. It’s clear with many of these contemporary works the writer did no more than conduct a few interviews and watched some classic movies. Get in there! Wanna write about prison life? Go to prison. Seriously. Go to prison. Don’t want to do that? Don’t write about it.

I guess my complaint is…I’m reading fiction suited for people who would rather live active lies then push beyond, excel and make better their surroundings, their community and the cultures they associate with. I’m reading works where I’ve been intentionally excluded as a member of the audience. Here is where I enter a plea for help. Help me locate contemporary/modern era novels which offer clear examples of how one can move past common hurdles and function in society. And please, oh sweet Venus please, leave the racism-celebrating volumes out. They bore me.

In the original picture, I'm posing with the #amreading novel. In protest of its content, I cropped it out. Unfortunately I appear more chipper than disgusted. Ah well.
In the original picture, I’m posing with the #amreading novel. In protest of its content, I cropped it out. Unfortunately I appear more chipper than disgusted. Ah well.
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