(Non)Fiction

Publishing news and updates by K.A. Wiggins

30 May 2024


This is and is not a news update.

I had a story coming out ten days ago.

Then I didn’t.

Some time, maybe I’ll write about contracts and negotiations and voices and motivations and the constant battle between Art and Commerce we all live under.

Today, I’m just happy not to have new fiction to promote.

Because, as I keep forgetting, as I keep being horrifically, mundanely, repeatedly, mind-numbingly reminded, while there is a place for poetry and allusions and escapism and Art that offers all the space in the world for free interpretation and engagement, there is also a desperate need for clarity. Honesty. Facts.

And since I write fiction that tries very hard not to tip into the extremities of didacticism, that explores ideas and invites readers to ask questions and think for themselves, rather than (I hope) presenting thin allegories and heavy-handed conclusions, I want to get a statement on record.

Most of my “nonfiction” writing ends up effectively subscription-gated (i.e., via newsletter) or on social media. In many cases, I’m more engaged with raising up voices more directly involved and educated on any given issue than commenting myself. (Again, fiction writer—I process my ideas sideways, inside-out, and open-ended through fun-house mirrors!)

But I’ve also been having very alarming conversations lately. Conversations where I assumed shared understandings about the world and was sadly mistaken.

So let’s get some things straight:

All people are created equal. All human lives have value and should be protected from violence and provided—at a bare minimum—with the necessities of life in a healthy society. As humans, we should all be in favour of human rights (and animal rights are worth a look, too…)

All people means all people. Even if your people historically didn’t like their people or their people hurt your people in the past. Even if you could make more money hating and/or exploiting them, or it will cost you something to defend their rights. Even if they personally annoy you. Even if you feel uncomfortable. Yes, even then. None of us are owed a frictionless existence, especially at the cost of another’s safety, wellness, or survival.

I’d rather not make a list here of every equity-deserving people group, but growing evidence suggests I’d better start with at least a short-list. Black Lives Matter. Palestinian lives do too. Ditto Indigenous & Asian folks. Trans and queer rights are human rights. Again, this isn’t about your or my personal tastes, preferences, beliefs or desires. Human rights for all humans are an inherent good. All humans drawing really clear lines about war crimes, genocide, etc., also good! Let’s all get on that page and stay on that page…

This is where it seems to get harder for many: Colonialism? Imperialism? Not good, actually. See also: authoritarianism, totalitarianism, facism, police states, extractive capitalism . . . I know this gets a lot of folks’ backs up. I know folks get scared/offended/enraged at the thought of all that they’ve sacrificed to the machine being for nothing, humiliated at swallowing all those lies they’ve been propagansized with their whole lives, despairing at the thought that no matter what else they sacrifice, they might never pull themselves up by their bootstraps into wealth and comfort and stability. Believe me, I know.

But we’re not “temporarily embarassed (b)millionaires” (John Steinbeck), and the sooner we accept this, the sooner we can start building societies that work on behalf of the rest of us.

Worldwide human-caused environmental damage is a rapidly-worsening crisis with multiple systemic inputs, but we can make individual and systemic changes to moderate the suffering and, eventually, start to heal. We can make intentional choices with our food systems, our land use, our work and leisure, our technology, our energy. We can give land back to those we’ve stolen it from, we can choose to value sustainability and community instead of individualistic “ambition” that seeks to swallow the earth.

We can tell a different story and bring it to life. We can be better.

I don’t know if we will, but we can.

Yes, this is about Palestine (Free Palestine!) But it’s also about Canada (Land Back!) and about all peoples and places that are suffering and have suffered and are about to suffer. This month—in the last week alone—floods and extreme heat waves have killed hundreds if not thousands, on separate continents. And when it’s not nature-by-way-of-us, it’s directly us—funding munitions to enact genocide against tens and hundreds of thousands, or literally feeding children to the gods of industry from the cobalt mines of Congo to the processing plants of Chick-fil-A.

I will defend my right to write strange, complicated, questioning little stories and your right to escape into labyrinthine adventures and intricate fantasies and tortured romances and turn off your brain or draw the absolute wildest conclusions while doing so if that’s what you choose. You don’t have to learn anything from my (or any other) fiction, despite what your teachers may have told you. You might learn things. I and other authors might even have had things in mind that we hoped you’d pick up on. But there is no test. You’re not being graded, except in the larger sense that we all are, as humans, as beings that share this planet and (hopefully) will go on sharing it for generations to come without wiping ourselves and each other out.

So consider this my plug for balancing fiction and fantasy and all the escapism your heart could desire with a bit of nonfiction every so often. There’s more to learn than they taught you in grade school social studies or high school history class. Or science, for that matter. And there’s a whole lot of money and power being poured into hiding the unvarnished facts that didn’t fit between the pages of your textbooks from you. So please do a little reading, or listening, or watching, Preferably all three.

Here are just a few places to start:

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