I’m going to look at Fire and Fury: Inside the Trump White House by Michael Wolff from a different perspective. (If you want my opinion about the subject of the book, click here.) It has been a long time since a book received such a reaction and widespread discussion. What does this mean for us as writers, and what can we learn that can help us?
The reaction would have been different if the President’s skin was thicker than the paper the pages were printed on. Had President Trump and his administration given it a collective shrug or a calm “this isn’t true and not properly sourced,” no one would be talking about it. The book became important because the President made it important by reacting with, well, fire and fury.
This is an extreme example of something important about writing. We seek connection with our readers. We want to elicit some sort of reaction. It can be joy, fear, sorrow, enlightenment, inspiration, laughter, or even anger. We want our readers to feel something from our work. The more they feel, the more they’ll talk about our work to others, and the more others will want to experience our work for themselves. The passion we put into our writing stirs the passion of our readers.
We also need passion to overcome another emotion, fear. The rich and powerful have always been difficult to take on. We worry about ruining our reputation, creating some career-ending slip-up, or endangering ourselves financially or physically from something we’ve written. But if we’ve done our homework, have sufficient documentation to back up our claims, have complete faith in our story, and write with integrity and clarity, we can build the passion to speak the truth. Our confidence in our writing will earn us the confidence of our readers.
And having writing that readers can believe in is especially important now.
We are living in uncertain times. We need the arts to help us make sense of them, understand them, and figure out for ourselves how to feel about them. This is why we need to write with honesty and passion. With the superheated emotions swirling around now, it’s easy to get a reaction from people. We need to encourage our intended reactions with the truth.