#FirstVoices, Laundry, and Squirrels Cheat At Cards

I’ve been playing with a new app, called Prisma:


I’m pretty sure the squirrel is cheating.

Prisma is so fun! You pick an art filter and it turns your picture into an illustration. I *may* be playing with dolls this morning instead of outlining.

But! I am also thinking while I play. Because that is what grown-ups do. We call it “multi-tasking” and it is totes important.*

Things I am thinking about while I avoid laundry:

  1. How much I love Pitch Wars
  2. Diversity in fiction
  3. Cultural appropriation
  4. Did the cat just puke on the bed?
  5. Oh gross, the cat did just puke on the bed

More laundry. Sigh.

While I wash the bedspread and stalk  patiently wait for the Pitch War mentors to announce their mentees, I really am thinking deep thoughts about diversity in fiction. It’s a wibbly-wobbly ball of sticky icky, and I am still struggling with exactly where I stand. Not on the need for diversity, but on the role a middle aged white female writer should have.

Sisters in Crime just released a well-researched report on diversity, equity, and inclusion in the mystery writing community. This quote tears at my heart: “Romance is white people in love; sci-fi is white people in space; mystery is white people solving crime.” 

I don’t believe lack of diversity is (usually) a willful decision on the part of writers. It is an unconscious decision born of privilege–the privilege of not having to think about race.

I’m outlining a new story, one not involving squirrels and talking peanuts, and deciding exactly who the protagonist wants to be. What race is she? Should she be a different race? What if she has a disability? Am I the best person to write that story?

I have a child with a rare genetic condition. Would my experience within the ichthyosis community inform me enough to show a window into my daughter’s world, or would I be taking away the community’s right to tell its own stories?

This is hard, dude.

We’ve been discussing this issue in one of my writer support groups, and I’m not sure I’m any closer to an answer. So many wonderful writers have weighed in with thoughtful, insightful arguments. For an idea of our discussion, read Liselle and Justina Ireland  for opposing thoughts on race, and Kim Cohen’s thoughtful discussion on the issue of  writing from the disability perspective.

Liselle assured me that it was okay to write from a different perspective, because that is what writers do. I love her for that. Others have argued that the diversity problem should be solved by lifting up and supporting marginalized voices, and I absolutely agree. We should, at the very least, make an effort to represent other perspectives accurately.

Or, you know, we can always cop out and write about card playing squirrels…

*The kids may have gone back to school this morning, and I may be a little giddy from getting my writing time back.