It’s that time again: that time every week where I round up links to articles written by marginalized people pushing back against oppression in publishing. I’m aggregated as many marginalized voices as possible from as many vectors as possible, and the more intersectional the better. As always if you’ve read something I missed please link it in the comments.
“On Being a Nice Author” by Justine Larbalestier
You’ll notice I keep putting “nice” in quote marks. That’s because it’s a word I’m deeply suspicious of. Telling people to be nice is often a way to get them to shut up. Frankly, as a woman, I’ve had a few too many people tell me I’m not being nice when I express an opinion they disagree with.
“Why We Need to Build More Diverse Worlds in Fiction” by Bernard Hayman for The Toast
The real importance and impact of worldbuilding lies in what worlds we choose to pay attention to, which narratives we choose to engage with, whose stories we choose to tell. Tell a variation on the same story enough times to enough people and it can become a kind of truth by consensus. Without diverse worldbuilding in fiction, without all kinds of characters and stories to love, we can’t see the whole picture.
“The Man Booker 2015 Shortlist is Apalling” by Nicola Griffith
“When Your ‘Other’ Isn’t ‘Other’ Enough” by Adrianne Russell
None of my feedback’s been about my ability: “this doesn’t ring true…” “readers won’t relate to this girl…” Coded language like a mofo.
— adrianne (@writersrepublic) September 15, 2015
“After Yi-Fen Chou: A Forum: 19 Writers Respond to Michael Derrick Hudson’s Yellowface” at Asian American Writer’s Workshop (read it allllllll)
On a personal level, as someone who’s writing about a woman of color not fully remembered by history, I’ve been told to take out all her quotes but leave in the one by James Joyce. I’ve sat through classes where people have written about their experiences, at home and abroad, with people of color who remain either nameless and faceless or over-exotified.
– Kavita Das
“I Gave A Speech About Race to the Publishing Industry and No One Heard Me” by Mira Jacob for Buzzfeed
Here is the thing about how discrimination works: No one ever comes right out and says, “We don’t want you.” In the publishing world, they don’t say, “We just don’t want your story.” They say, “We’re not sure you’re relatable” and “You don’t want to exclude anyone with your work.” They say, “We’re not sure who your audience is.”
I believe that. I believe that there are still some people in this industry who are not sure who my audience is. But I do not for a minute believe that is because my audience doesn’t exist.
“A Guide For Skinny Writers Who Want to Write Fat Characters” by Sarah Hollowell
Here’s the thing. If you’re a skinny writer, and you have always been skinny, please, please, please do not write about the fat experience. Do not write books about what it’s like to be fat, especially not if you’re like “being fat is awful!” Do not write books about fat characters on weight loss journeys. Do not write books where the entire plot and core and theme is that this character is fat and this is what it means to them to be fat.
If you’re a skinny writer, do not write books about fat characters being fat.
You can write a story about anything else.