UPDATE: The Bill did not pass, so I'm shifting this to behind the break.
Today, I sent my state representative a brief email asking him to oppose House Bill 1218, subtitled "TO PROHIBIT OFFERING OF CERTAIN COURSES, EVENTS, AND ACTIVITIES REGARDING RACE, GENDER, POLITICAL AFFILIATION, SOCIAL CLASS, OR CERTAIN CLASSES OF PEOPLE; AND TO ADJUST FUNDING FOR SCHOOLS THAT OFFER CERTAIN COURSES, EVENTS, AND ACTIVITIES."
I've done NanoWriMo (with varying levels of success) since 2012 with a full on "break" last year (I had just published Homecoming and wanted a rest). So far, I'm pretty happy with my progress in the first two days. Here's what is in my survival kit.
The following entry is probably not for everyone. But, since this is a post about gatekeeping--specifically in terms of who *gets* to write books in a specific genre--I can't identify who it's not for. Let's just say that there are discussions within about sexual orientation, gender identity, butch/femme stereotypes, romance vs. erotica, and even what we mean by "relationship" and "relations."
Some potential trigger words that may appear: TERF, trans, lesbian, LGBTQIA+, gatekeeping, queer--you get the idea. If that list causes you pause you may want to move along.
Also, I totally get if this is a TLDR; for people. I'm going to put in some headings that let you skip around a bit.
If you've read this blog before, it probably is no surprise that I love the book and movie Wonderboys. And, in the chaos that is 2020, I often feel like Grady--unfocused, wearing my security blanket (in my case, the recent pair of elephant pants that I bought on a deep sale, rather than my ex's chenille bathrobe), and at a loss for editing my story down to just what matters.
September is where I try to turn that around.
While there's no substitute for a human editor, there are some wonderful tools which can not only help you save money and time with your editor by presenting them a cleaner manuscript from the start, but which can also help you identify patterns of error and weakness in your writing. Once you know those patterns, you can improve your writing as a whole.
The three tools above (the pictures are linked to their product pages) are the ones I use on a daily basis when writing, revising, and editing. Let's dive a bit deeper into what these are and how I use them.
Above is my most recent completed project--I feel like I can share the picture now that the two moms these were stitched for have received them (so this isn't a spoiler). But, like many of the stitching projects I signed on for prior to leaving teaching, this one took me way longer than I expected.
So, I've seen a lot of discussion about whether we should really be reading White Fragility and promoting it and books like White Like Me right now. And, I have to say that I understand the objection, even though I think those are good books to read.
The point is--don't JUST read those. And maybe don't read those first. Instead, start with books by Angela Davis, Ibram X. Kendi, Malcolm X, Henry Louis Gates, and Cornel West. You may need to go read books by white people about your white person biases after you read these other works and then go BACK to the texts by Black writers to fully respond and process those other works, and that's OK.
But don't just read one book on race by a white person and decide you are done.
Similarly, instead of White Savior narratives like The Help, Green Book, and Hidden Figures consider turning to works by Maya Angelou, Toni Morrison, Alice Walker, Richard Wright, Colson Whitehead, Jesmyn Ward.
These lists are incomplete, but the idea is that if I point you in a direction, you can keep up the momentum, right?
Similarly, in a writer's group I'm in today, a cis woman (she identified herself as such) indicated she wanted to write about a trans character. Then a couple of men jumped in and said they were writing genderless characters or non-binary ones. They all indicated they want to bring a voice to the unrepresented. They were happy because they felt that no one else had done such work before.
While I applaud the attention to non-cis and non-het characters, I see a lot of writers talking about how underrepresented queer writers are. The problem is these well-meaning people aren't looking at the legacy before them and the contemporary writers around them.
So, if you're going to write about queer people, please go out and read works by queer people first. If you are writing fiction that has characters who are genderless or who flout gender conventions, go read Joanna Russ, Marge Piercy, Jeanette Winterson, Octavia Butler, T. Cooper, Leslie Feinberg, Caitlan Kiernan, Poppy Z. Brite (now Billy Martin).
It really only takes a few Google searches to find plenty of new writers to explore. Here are a few listicles to get you started:
15 Trans, Nonbinary, and Gender Nonconforming Writers to Support
Broaden Your Horizons with 19 Must-Reads by Trans and Nonbinary Authors
16 Books Written by Transgender and Nonbinary Authors You Should Already Be Reading
Go to Lambda Literary and explore there. Also, know that there are other organizations out there focused on fiction by LGBTQIA+ authors.
Please, writers, realize that you are entering a conversation that has already been started before you discovered the table existed. Please know where you are situated in that larger context before you decide to speak for a group you are an ally for, but not a member of.
During today's Common Ground: Law Enforcement & Our Community event, Beth Waldrup gave a list of books (go about 30 minutes in to that video) as resources, and I wanted to share that list here with links.
Note: Clicking the cover will take you to an Amazon page. These are not affiliate links. Do consider, though, if you use Amazon to also make use of their Smile option. I use it to donate funds to the H&P Animal Alliance with every purchase. Alternatively, if you don't want to shop Amazon (and I totally understand why some folks don't want to) check out eBooks.com for your digital copy needs and ThriftBooks.com for used copies.
Library option: Our public library is part of the Arkansas Digital Consortium. The following books are part of that collection, although you will have to get on the waitlist: Stamped from the Beginning, How to be an Antiracist, The Hate U Give.
Three books seems to be about all I can get through during COVID-19 in a month.
Writing these days is sparse. I keep picking at Long Weekend, and I'm finding myself slowly rising above the COVID-19 distraction on some days. I know if I can focus for a couple of days in a row, I'm likely to get hooked into the characters enough that I will pick up some speed.
Hi, all! I wanted to share a couple of "greatest hits" posts with everyone, and also to add to the resources I've shared with you in the past. Earlier today, I heard from Barbara Lincoln:
"I would just like to say a quick word of thanks! As a youth services librarian and educator, I've been running a fun writers workshop for 12-15 year olds and thought you might enjoy hearing that we were able to get some great use out of your older post, 'Writerly Resources: Free and Low-Cost' before the self-quarantine and social distancing. We were even able to use some of this information for our most recent group project! Thanks so much for sharing!"
I'm so honored that folks are not only reading this blog, but also that people are finding what I post useful. As a former writing instructor, there's no better feeling than that I've helped someone on their journey.
"I hope you don't mind, but one of our youngest, Amelia has also asked me if I could share an article that she and her mother found together on writing basics for young writers, which includes a great breakdown of potential writing careers, education options and essential skills, self-publishing, book proposals, the editing process, etc. I've included it below if you'd like to review!"
The resource Amelia found is "Writing Careers: The Business Behind Becoming an Author." I took a look, and what a great resource, indeed! Thank you, Amelia! And thank you to Barbara for passing this information along.
In addition to linking to that resources post from December of 2019, I wanted to remind everyone of my "DIY Writer's Retreat" takeaways post, which seems especially relevant now that we are all staying home. Hopefully these resources, which include some great podcasts, will help people feel connected and a little less alone.
And--I have a new favorite writing podcast! Check out Writing Excuses. 15 seasons of 15 minute long podcasts. Quick listening for a walk around the block.