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Just Write: A Rant.

It’s a question I thought I’d left behind when I departed the Ivory Tower: Can someone who is not a [race/faith/sex/species] write about [race/faith/sex/species]? Do we have enough [race/sex/species] in our department or do we need more/fewer [race/sex/species]? OK, species isn’t really a problem in academia, but there are heated arguments over if a male can write Women’s History, if an Anglo can write about China, if So-and-so could be hired because HR had warned the Department that they had too many [whatevers] and might be investigated…and so on.

Fiction – we make stuff up, right? Space aliens, dragons in Shang Dynasty China, super high-tech societies hiding in Central Africa… And we write about it, and people read it or don’t.

And then things like this cross my bow…

https://electricliterature.com/how-the-brooklyn-literary-scene-is-striving-to-be-more-inclusive-4e4ad78fd501

A sample: “Publishing still isn’t an equal-opportunity space for people who aren’t white men — but at least we’re talking about it now. It’s hard to remember how limited and lonely the world felt before we reached our current level of cultural awareness of racial, gender, and sexual discrimination — when our discomfort with an all-white male literary panel might go completely unregistered, because outside of private conversations there wasn’t even a place to register it.”

OR

https://lithub.com/white-artists-need-to-start-addressing-white-supremacy-in-their-work/

Because apparently no one writes about this and people are yearning to read more.

And so on.

Apparently these folks don’t remember one wee, tiny, vital, important thing:

Readers don’t care what you look like, who you feel romantically inclined towards, which deity you do or don’t believe in, so long as you tell a great story and entertain them.

Just write. Do not worry about being a plaid writer describing spotted aliens. Just. Write. The. Story. Put me in the shoes of someone like me, or different from me. Entertain me, and only then make me think a little, or not at all.

Just write.

 

 

48 Comments
  1. Ted Ung #

    The reductio ends up, “No one may write a biography of Kirth Gersten, because they are not Kirth Gersten.”

    September 4, 2018
  2. How does one write about a ten thousand year old alien machine intelligence who runs a drone on Earth which is a woman of color?

    By telling the nannies to cram it where the sun never shines.

    September 4, 2018
    • Put that in the blurb. I’d have to pick it up just to find out who the drone is. Although you’d probably want to conceal the identity for a little ways in – I mean, Kamala Harris, the alien is obviously hostile, Candace Owens, it’s benign.

      September 4, 2018
      • Mike Houst #

        It’s obviously Sarah Palin. I always thought she wasn’t quite, human.

        September 4, 2018
        • Makes sense. Alien intelligence is from where PINK is the color in the phrase. Yes?

          September 4, 2018
      • How does somebody last 10,000 years on earth? By following the libertarian principle of minding her own business. She’s nobody important. ~:D

        Imagine how thankless a task it would be for an alien intelligence to try to run the world. Boss all the monkeys around, make them behave.

        September 4, 2018
  3. As to the first article, it’s pretty clear that the author is treating past conditions like they are present conditions, which is fairly normal for people to do. It is, however, rather annoying.

    As to the second, it’s pretty clear that the author is indulging in self-aggrandizement masquerading as self-loathing, because she apparently seems to believe that there is something unique about being born white which causes white people to be responsible for everything–admittedly, the article mostly focuses on the negative side, but I’d be willing to bet she’d be hard-pressed to name positive things non-white people have done.

    Either way, neither of these people, I suspect, are going to produce writing that anyone but academics and literary critics are going to want to read.

    September 4, 2018
    • Ja. My life is too short to spend reading fiction (or non-fiction, but that’s my job) about how horrible life is because People of Pallor once controlled world trade and acted like, well, pretty much every conqueror in human history has. I’m sure Timurlenk and Shaka Zulu would be flabbergasted to discover that they were “white,” or that they acted like “whites.”

      September 4, 2018
      • Evenstar #

        Not to mention Genghis Khan.

        September 4, 2018
        • I suspect that the responses to such an accusation would have options of beheadings or impalements, followed by mountains of skulls. =)

          September 5, 2018
          • Mountains of skulls were the Hittites, right?

            Yeah, there’s a reason Uriah moved to Israel….

            September 5, 2018
            • I thought Genghis did that too? I could be wrong; still fuzzy-headed at the hospital.

              September 5, 2018
            • TonyT #

              Tamerlane after sacking Baghdad IIRC

              September 5, 2018
  4. But it’s an excellent excuse for anything you don’t feel like writing about, should an SJW ambush you: “Oh, as a Straight White Mormon Male I feel it’s best to leave (insert token-of-the-day here) to someone who can offer a more authentic experience.”

    Better, of course, to not talk to SJWs in the first place. Stuff like this should only be used if you can’t nice them away quickly enough.

    September 4, 2018
    • Addendum: People who want to talk about how much they care about ‘diversity’ and ‘inclusivity’ don’t seem to buy very many books, and the market there is oversaturated with awards-chasers anyway.

      -Albert

      September 4, 2018
  5. It’s hard to remember how limited and lonely the world felt before we reached our current level of cultural awareness of racial, gender, and sexual discrimination — when our discomfort with an all-white male literary panel might go completely unregistered, because outside of private conversations there wasn’t even a place to register it.”

    It wouldn’t have gone unregistered.

    It might have been responded to, as it should be– by someone eyeballing you and saying “wait, the only reason you’re upset is because of their sex and race? Isn’t that kinda…you know…bigoted?”

    Much less getting respect for attacking folks for not saying it first.

    September 4, 2018
    • Perhaps one could ask whether they would like to apply a quota system to such panels? Although with ten panel members, getting the exact proportions to match the population statistics could get tricky. Slicing and dicing people does make such a mess…

      September 4, 2018
  6. celebran #

    So the items written by white men some how floated to the top of of the slush pile? Personally there are more then a few authors I read that I didn’t know if they were male or female and yet they wrote damn good books. ie: pen names anyone?

    September 4, 2018
    • Makes you wonder if they’ve ever looked at the NFL and noticed how many “white” names are on guys who don’t have to spend much on sun screen, doesn’t it?

      September 4, 2018
      • TRX #

        Looks like cultural appropriation to me. I’m triggered!

        September 5, 2018
    • When I first read “Blood Child” in my father’s Analog magazine I did not notice the author’s name, or at least didn’t pay much attention to it. In fact I knew nothing about the author. All I knew was that I thought the story was good – good enough that I recognized the plot to it 20 some years later in a filk song. When you can tell a story good enough that I can remember key elements 20+ years after reading it, I don’t care about your personal life – just keep writing.

      September 4, 2018
  7. Christopher M. Chupik #

    But how can I possibly write unless I’ve been born into the right caste? /sarc

    September 4, 2018
    • THIS. Exactly this!!!! SJZs, victimhood, Marxism, Socialism, and political correctness don’t care about equality, they work off a caste system!

      September 4, 2018
  8. Evenstar #

    I am so tired of white guilt from white liberals. Seriously, encouraging people to hate themselves is just as bad as encouraging them to hate the “other”.

    September 4, 2018
    • Luke #

      They are encouraging people to hate the “other”.

      If you haven’t noticed, their railing against Caucasians always manages to exempt themselves. They’re enlightened, dontchasee.

      September 4, 2018
  9. John R. Ellis #

    The second one -really- made my head hurt. The doctrine of Original Sin, it seems, didn’t fall out of fashion, it just found a new label. -_-

    NO ONE IS AUTOMATICALLY AND INNATELY EVIL.

    We are all children of God.

    Phooey on those who obsessively need to believe otherwise out of a misplaced sense of self castigation.

    September 4, 2018
    • John R. Ellis #

      https://quillette.com/2018/08/29/unpacking-peggy-mcintoshs-knapsack/ Do the myriad preachers of the false gospel even know or care that their religion was invented by an insanely rich white person? One who was looking, it seems, for an excuse?

      September 4, 2018
      • Luke #

        An excuse, yes.
        For what, though?
        A pernicious attack on those Caucasians not possessing her class advantages, would be my guess.

        September 4, 2018
    • Mike Houst #

      “NO ONE IS AUTOMATICALLY AND INNATELY EVIL.”

      No, but we do generally all start out automatically and innately selfish and self-centered, greedy, grasping little goblins. It requires training by example, reason, and sometimes a properly placed foot to make us socially acceptable, or at least tolerable.

      September 4, 2018
      • John R. Ellis #

        I’m not speaking of children here, though I do think it takes them a while to learn what responsible use of agency is. I’m speaking of the Anointed Ones who have spent the past three decades convincing the world that their religious belief that skin pigmentation=morality is a noble thing, something they must force all of the rest of the world to obey by calling Privilege a “theory”…even though it has never been tested, studied, or measured and is defined solely by a bunch of essays by people with an axe to grind.

        The fact that these folk have managed to warp a significant number of at least two generations into accepting this evil, soul destroying belief is an ironclad law of nature is quite frankly, sickening.

        September 5, 2018
  10. Draven #

    c4c

    September 4, 2018
  11. If I can fool people into thinking that my stories were written by a mixed Japanese/Zulu naturalized-American transgender femme lesbian trapped in a man’s body, I think I’ve won. 😀

    September 5, 2018
  12. 23 skidoo

    September 5, 2018
  13. Kord #

    The second article was so over the top that it seemed like satire.

    Do regular people actually talk like that at the US dinner tables?

    September 5, 2018
    • TRX #

      In my experience most of them are watching TV or playing with their phones.

      September 5, 2018
    • Probably not. These conversations are probably held in chic little exclusive restaurants and cafes, with fairly loud volume, so that all and sundry may hear their verbal self-flagellation and self-loathing, and gain approbation.

      September 5, 2018
  14. Kord #

    Thanks to both of you. Where I live, most people fiddle with phones and remotes too. Sometimes the cultural sections of the newspapers and some left wing editorials slant that way, but not to that rather silly extent.

    September 5, 2018
  15. If people can only write what they are, how can a book with such short sighted casting be even remotely interesting. I mean, yea, a book where every character is ME would be *AWESOME* because I am totally *AWESOME*, but not everyone is me, and even then it seems such a book would lack a certain variety.

    Stories require a varied cast, so unless a book is a massive collaboration, chances are an author will need to write characters that are other than what they are. Can male authors only write male characters? Can female authors only write female characters? Is a gay author unable to write a straight character? The whole idea is ridiculous.

    September 5, 2018
  16. Clayton W. #

    I guesss we will be seeing exclusivly on characteer stories as the Hugo winners from now on. If you can ONLY write what you are, you can ONLY have one character. Well maybe o world populated by copies of a single clone.

    Sigh, I remember when reading the Hugo winners anthologies were a good way to find new authors.

    September 5, 2018
    • To the charge that one of the characters in a story I wrote was a Mary Sue, I once replied “Of course he is… They ALL ARE!” Because, in a way I put a bit of myself into every character I write.

      Does that mean I can’t write characters that are different than me? Not really, for the same reason that I can relate to people who are widely different than me. Because there is always common ground. I can cry along with a gay friend who has lost his love, because I have lost a love. I can feel anger along with someone who is discriminated against, because I, and my loved ones, have been discriminated against. My first wife and I were almost lynched by some racist hillbillies while driving on the back-roads of Kentucky. She’s from mexico, and had tanned so much that year that the racists cornered me in a little gas station we stopped for sodas for being an “N-word” lover. I was only a few months out of Marine Corps boot camp and in top fighting condition, so I was able to handle the situation, but it was a close thing for a bit. I could go on and on, but you get the idea.

      On top of personal experiences. I’ve READ. Perhaps reading isn’t quite the same as being there, but I can still use those experiences. At this point, the Leftists would argue out of one side of their face that just reading isn’t enough, all while preaching that we need more minority etc. authors to “raise awareness” out of the other side of their face. If this “raising awareness” isn’t intended to help people gain understanding that allows them to relate, I sure don’t know what it’s for.

      September 5, 2018
  17. Synova #

    Wait what?

    We’re supposed to be writing about white supremacy?

    Omg.

    September 5, 2018
    • We’re supposed to be writing about how guilty we are of having supreme power over all Persons of Colour, and to be whipping ourselves more fiercely than a devout Shiite man visiting Karbala during Ashura.

      I’d rather write about a merchant who is currently annoyed with his great-haulers for acting like bird-brains, or a mildly confused laundry owner trying to adjust to life with a thirty-pound, talking possum named Magnolia.

      September 5, 2018
      • or a mildly confused laundry owner trying to adjust to life with a thirty-pound, talking possum named Magnolia.

        Is that really a story? That sound interesting!

        September 5, 2018
      • John R. Ellis #

        Someone should have told C.J. Cherryh she should never have written about a crew of sapient lionoid alien merchants transporting cargo for a race of trisexual hermaphrodites who shift personality under stress.

        September 5, 2018

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