So I met this awesome blogger/author on LinkedIn. Her name is Scarlett Van Dijk, and she has some great content on her blog about being an author, a writer, and heading down that path. I was lucky enough to be on her blog A Writer's Tale- Guest Post. Since attending BookCon's #WeNeedDiverseBooks event, Im realizing diversity should not be seen as this idea that has to be forced fed. It shouldn't be seen a fad, because frankly, my life isn't a fad. You can check out her blog anytime at this link, or at A Writer's Tale.
Writing is one of the most creatively freeing activities a person can do. Writing can be beautiful, it can be ugly. At times it can be difficult, whilst many times words can just fly off the page. Writing can reflect on your experiences, what you see in the world, what you'd like to see in the world, and it is often the first exposure a person will get to entertainment.
But sometimes we have a little trouble using the "D" word. That's right. Diversity.
There was once a time where I read books just to read books, because they had pretty covers, or interesting plots about fallen angels, or unattainable love, where "insert character here", saves "insert character there."
But through this journey of written colloquy, it wasn't until my 20's I noticed how short reaching the narratives I read came from. Typically American, young, white, able bodied, almost always straight and cis-gendered. I cant say they've always been male, because I typically connect easily to women protagonists vs men, but many others disagree.
Attending this year's BookCon, I had the greatest opportunity to sit in for the #WeNeedDiverseBooks panel. This whole #WeNeedDiverseBooks hashtag started over the lack of diversity at a children's book panel, and to be honest, it's been happening since anyone can remember, the only thing that's changed was author Ellen Oh refusing to stay quiet this time.
Writing should be an extension of yourself. And while that infamous phrase "write what you know" has been etched into the narratives of many of the things you may write as we speak, do you take the time to make sure you're writing is diverse?
No one should have to tell how important diversity is, I think many of us are open minded enough to know that by now. And also, let me make myself clear. No one is asking you to write what you DONT want to write. No one is asking you to make characters to fill a quota, and writing diversely is not, I repeat, IS NOT or should be seen as being on some agenda.
But when you step outside, do you only see one type of anything? Ok, maybe you don't live in Sacramento, CA. Maybe you're from a small community where you don't encounter many strangers or tourists, and don't openly seek people different from you.
But the world is full of people. Diverse people. The world wide web itself is a thriving source of diverse people, that with the click of a mouse, are at your fingertips. Having a day job is living diversely. Even going to Starbucks, puts you at the mercy of being around different people you might have nothing in common with.
Even if you don't recognize it, you are living diversely everyday. Why cant your writing reflect that? If there isn't a reason NOT to write diversely, there shouldn't be anything standing in the way of creating a gay main character, or a character in a wheelchair, or an Polynesian protagonist. And it doesn't have to be mutually exclusive! Try telling someone who actually is Polynesian, disabled and queer, that their narratives don't matter. Just the idea of that type of invisibility is dangerous, because it isn't just to show people who are Polynesian, disabled and queer that they can be heroes.
It's to show everyone who isn't that they can be too.
Guinevere Thomas is one half of a blog duo known as "Twinja Book Reviews." She and her twin sister blog about diversity in books, their favorite martial artists, and wholly support more women, more disabled, more queer, more people of color, and diverse body types and religions in books. If you have a book that highlights strong characters like this, look don't be afraid to check her out! And yea it's pronounced Gwen-ah-veer!
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