7.01.2015

July #IWSG - a revisit to my Challenge from last week

The first Wednesday of every month is Insecure Writer's Support Group day. It's a day for lovely people to bop around and support one another through this crazy thing we call 'being writers'. If you consider yourself to be a writer I highly suggest joining :) 

I am a co-host this month, along with Charity, SA, Tamara, Allison, and Tanya. And of course, Alex! Check them all out!

In my other professional life we talk about growth through provision of both Challenge and Support, so today I'm offering my fellow writers a dose of both.

June was an emotional month for social justice and civil rights in the USA. In just two weeks we had the shooting at Emanuel AME Church, subsequent burnings of other black churches (7 as of this writing), and the SCOTUS's decisions to maintain Obamacare and legalize same sex marriage in all 50 states. Issues of freedom, justice and safety have been on everyone's minds. We have celebrated and mourned. On the 26th President Obama gave a celebratory speech in the morning, and sang an emotional (and ever so slightly off-key :) ) Amazing Grace in the afternoon. The US has come a long way toward equality, and we have so much further to go.

Last week I challenged my writing friends to write more diversity into our books, and today on IWSG day I want to re-issue that challenge. America reads. More and more we are seeing our books turned into movies and television shows. If we as writers commit to writing more diversity of all kinds into our literature, think of how many minds we can influence!

I challenge you all to commit to write: people of all races/ethnicities as main characters, as lovers, as friends; LGBT people as positive, functional, happy, normal people; and women as powerful agents of their own lives. If all of us writers (including us white writers.. *ahem*) look at our stories and are intentional about not only having white male protagonists, bad guys who are people of color, damsels in distress, we can show our readers what the world could look like. What the world should look like. What the world does look like.

Writers have always been subversive and political in our own ways. I'm challenging you all to join me in this particular subversion. Are you in? How can I support you?

Click here to read my original, more lengthy post about the AME shooting, which contains the initial challenge and more detailed reflection.

39 comments:

  1. Thanks for co-hosting this month. Yes, it has been an emotional month. Often I wonder what it would take for all of us to be united. An alien invasion? (I write sci fi romance so that's the way my brain travels).

    Diane IWSG #99

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  2. It definitely has been a tumultuous week, hasn't it? So many opinions, so many voices.

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  3. America is a melting pot and books should reflect that.
    Thanks for co-hosting today!

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  4. I think a lot of people want cultural diversity, but are afraid of it. Even I admit that what I read and what I write are not always the same, but I do work to be open-minded. I also think that many people aren't sure how to reconcile cultural diversity with personal preferences. It's a tricky situation, but I'm glad that people are talking about it. That's the first step to making a difference.
    Thank you for co-hosting today.

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  5. This is a great challenge--and it's been a wild, life-changing, shaking up of a month. So much good, so much bad. It's truly an amazing time to be alive.

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  6. Books should address life in its variety. Thanks for co-hosting!

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  7. Thanks for co-hosting. :)
    IWSG #123 until Alex culls the list again.

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  8. Once again, I love your challenge and support it 100%!

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  9. I've always been in! It's been a sort of natural progression of this to add more people of color to my stories. There's always been other gender identities, but it took me a long time to be comfortable with writing a character of a different race than my own, mostly because writer's hear all the time to only write what you know, but you know what? Screw that. Branch out and spread diversity!

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  10. Great post. Thank you. It's definitely been an emotional month for our nation at large, and a bit anxiety-inducing if you step into corners of social media (or family member's homes or work) where people who believe differently express opinions ... loudly.

    I also blogged about writing diversity today, and the insecurities that come with getting it right. It's a big responsibility. We need to take the challenge, but also take it seriously.

    Here's my IWSG post: http://www.stephaniescott.net/2015/07/insecure-writers-support-group-iwsg.html

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  11. Hi,
    I love your post. I am a subversive writer. Living as an ExPatriate on the European Continent has taught me that people are people. Really enjoyed reading your message to step out and change by being a writer that includes everyone in society.
    Shalom,
    Patricia

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  12. I think if you are immersed in this world, you can't help but write diversity. My white teen boys are surrounded by kids of different races. I love including them in my writing endeavors. They are smart, funny, and overall awesome kids that should be represented in books etc.

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  13. That is a great challenge!
    I will try my best to bring some diversity into my next book!

    Thanks for co-hosting!
    Heather

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  14. I try to write diversity into my books, though I'm dealing with a race of non-humans, so sometimes it gets tough. But I'll take your challenge to heart!

    Thanks for co-hosting!

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  15. Hi AJ! June has been an emotional and tumultuous month. My heart goes out to those who suffered and triumphed. And yes we need a better representation of the world we live in in books. There are people from all walks of life to draw from. Thanks for co-hosting.

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  16. I love your challenge and hereby accept it. Thanks for co-hosting this month!
    And, yes, we have had quite a month in the good ole USA! I thought Obama did one of the bravest things of all by leading in song. It is harder than it looks and take great courage.
    Play off the Page

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  17. Great challenge and I accept it! Thanks for co-hosting. :)

    shahwharton.com

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  18. Good post, very poignant, but... I don't think your challenge addresses the real issue. Instead of challenging writers to insert diversity into their characters, which might be artificial, shouldn't we instead try to insert diversity into our writing community? Encourage writers of color, women writers, writers belonging to other minority groups? Start more magazines specifically for them? Open publishing houses that would only publish writers belonging to such groups. Then the diversity in characters would come naturally. We all write what we know, right?

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    1. Well, yes, that would be great too. And, yes, we should take care not to just insert poc just to do it, and by using stereotypes.
      But so far as writing what we know goes, we cannot allow it to only be the responsibility of people of color to write about themselves if we ever expect to normalize and really celebrate the diversity in our country. Only when the majority groups begin to incorporate and value other viewpoints will we begin to see equal treatment of poc, LGBT people, ablebodied people, etc.
      Every successful movement depends upon the voices of its allies to succeed - in the 60s it was white people standing up with the black folks, women got the vote because men supported them, same sex marriage was legalized because a Supreme Court of straight people agreed that LGBT folks were being denied a right.
      If white/straight/male people don't start writing diversity into fiction too it has little hope of being normalized because at this point our culture does not value the voices of the minority as highly as those of us in the majority. People in the majority have more power, and it is our responsibility to use that power to help lift the voices of those in the minority.

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  19. It definitely has been a tumultuous month. My stories are built around strong female characters because I know women are strong and that's the type of story I want to read. Thank you for co-hosting!

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  20. This was a fabulous post that resonated deep. Yes, it's been a month both joyous and sad, but we do still have a way to go as far as civil and equal rights. I love your Challenge and you can count me IN! Thank you for co-hosting this month and working so hard. You've got a new fan. Have a great day. Eva

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  21. I came back again so I could thank you from my other blog for co-hosting today. :D You are Uh-mazing. Enjoy the rest of your IWSG day. Eva

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  22. Thanks for hosting and sharing the challenge!

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  23. Great, great post. Even in Canada (where we've had gay marriage for 10 years) we can forget to be inclusive in our writing. Thanks for the reminder and challenge.

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  24. Wonderful thoughts and sentiments. *thumbUp*
    Thx for hosting!

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  25. Absolutely in. I'm with you, AJ! I'm biracial and I'm from New York City, so I'm used to diversity in life, but it's not reflected in enough books for me. My historical novella had a black female MC who, though enslaved and then freed, has a lot of agency. Writing what you want is important and I want to more diversity in historical fiction because different races, sexes, and orientations were doing things way back when, too.

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  26. That's an awesome challenge! Good for you. On a side note- I saw you have lived in Wisconsin and Florida. I grew up near Milwaukee and am now living in Florida :)

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  27. I am in! In my last two books, the protagonist was black. I didn't do this to be more diverse--my characters just are who they are.

    I'm paying closer attention to how I write women. Often they've been weaker than they should be, and I'm going to change that.

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  28. A worthy challenge. I do write diversity when it fits into the story.

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  29. Thanks for writing this, AJ! I'll add that beyond the "representation in fiction" issue, more diverse characters can make your story better! In the first draft of my current story-in-progress, I wrote the main character as a white straight male and my lack of thought into his social identity was representative of my lack of thought into characterization in general. Upon revisiting years later, that same character is now a queer woman of color, a change that of course couldn't be a clean switch. When I really thought about what would change about her, it led to deeper and better characterization, and the story basically broke wide open for the better!

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  30. The main character in my novel is half Malay but she was raised in America. The challenge was to understand her all Malay Mom and Malaysian family as she discovers her heritage. It's been illuminating. I also lived in Malaysia for several months, which helped a lot. Nevertheless, writing about a foreign culture required tons of research.

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  31. While the main character of my current work is indeed a white male, I've been sure to give him positive supporting characters of several backgrounds to interact with. He's going to get his butt saved several times by some of them - I make sure they have more to do than just be set pieces!

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  32. My stories have been having a nice hodgepodge of diversity. My one series it was important that the covers reflect that. It's important everyone gets heroes they can see themselves as. Plus, I like reading those stories. I don't have to match their looks to relate.

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  33. This is a FABULOUS post which resonated......
    Coming from the rainbow nation country of South Africa, I always refer to myself as the quintessential multi-colored individual.
    I love this challenge and I definitely accept!
    Thank you for co-hosting the IWSG this month.

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  34. Great post and yes you made interesting points.

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  35. Although I'm not sure I'll ever publish my middle grade book, I did make the cast multi-everything I could work in with so few characters. Now I'm going to have to ask my editing clients to do the same. Thanks for co-hosting!

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  36. Interesting thoughts indeed. Nice of you to share!

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