Diversity

Rice_TheoryofMagic800An old argument, currently revived and raging around the internet, is the one where some people insist authors cannot write about any ethnicity/race/religion/sex but their own—which pretty much leaves the entire library to white male writers since there are far more of them than anyone else.

Yes, I agree that a strong female/African/Muslim point-of-view character would probably be stronger were the author of the same persuasion. But to tell me I can only write from the heroine’s POV because I’m female… Uh uh, I don’t think so. If all my heroines were of the same ethnicity/race/religion/sex as me, my only titles would be the Misadventures of a Spotted White Non-Affiliated Lady of Uncertain Genetics. There’s a big yawn for you.

Let’s face it, folks: Fiction is making stuff up. That’s what authors are paid to do—to pull ideas, characters, stories, times, and places out of their heads and put them on paper for others to enjoy or talk about. If I write about a Martian hermaphrodite, and you happen to be a Martian hermaphrodite and disagree with how I’ve written my character, that’s your choice. I’m good with that. Go ahead and disagree. Write your own story. But understand you’re not the only Martian hermaphrodite on the planet. I stand behind my character because s/he came out of my head, s/he’s mine. S/he is Not You.

My imagination comes in all colors, sizes, shapes, and levels of historical authenticity. I research my characters to the extent necessary for the type of book I write, which is usually directly related to the type of book I read. So, yes, it might be nice if writers write what they know—as long as readers accept that what we know is often in the  books we read.

And do these cultural control-enthusiasts expect us to only read what we are? Can I not read, appreciate, and understand the Martian experience because I’m from Earth? I’m not looking for rants, but any and all thoughtful perspectives.

And while I’m here, THEORY OF MAGIC comes out July 26. It’s about two very large, quite white, English people of Anglican orientation, and I’m pretty sure I’m not any of those unless spotted counts as white.

10 thoughts on “Diversity

  1. For goodness’ sake, that’s so silly. Shakespeare was neither a Danish prince nor a Scottish thane nor a Moorish mercenary. Robert Graves was never a Roman emperor. Mary Renault never lived in archaic Greece.
    The people who want to limit writers to their own experience are the same kind of people who say children should be given books to read that are relevant to their own lives. Why? I never wanted to read about people whose lives were like mine. I already knew about that. I wanted to read about people whose lives were DIFFERENT.
    Some people have no imagination.

  2. Any author who is willing to put in the time and effort to create a reasonably accurate story (let’s face it, perfection is a myth), should be able to write about any subject they wish! Several of the authors that I read have lists of names on their acknowledgement page(s) of people who have allowed their brains to be mined for relevant details or male/female POV in many situations. I say, “Go for it!” It is called fiction for a reason.

    • although I’m waiting for an author to acknowledge a murderer for their details in a suspense novel. 😉 Sorry, that’s my stock answer when someone asks me if I’ve tried all those sex scenes.

  3. I forgot one tiny little thing to write…
    Red and yellow, black and white… they are all precious in HIS sight!
    many hugs and blessings.
    Anna

  4. Thank you. Your imagination is beautiful and can in a plethora of rainbow of colors as far as I am concerned. Your gift is wonderful and I am grateful you share it with us. Regards, Anna

  5. Considering that there are over 6billion humans in this planet in all shapes, sizes, colours and odours, it would be decidedly boring to read a singular type of character from the narratives of the same author.

  6. There must be a bunch of idiots out there!!! Because your white means you don’t know about a different race bullpucky. We all have some understanding about other people’s lives.besides this is fantasy using historical facts at times.

    • Thanks. It’s just a subject being hashed to death, and some of the people behind it have played the mean girl card against some nice people. I won’t give them spotlight time by listing them.

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