Saturday, May 3, 2014

We Need Diverse Books

I love the We Need Diverse Books movement. It's making me want to get back on Twitter but given that I'm at NESCBWI this weekend, it's not really the best time for me to attempt to remember my password.

So, I will blog about it.

We NEED diverse books. Why? It hardly seems necessary to explain—don't we all want diverse books? Aren't the merits more than obvious?—well, I suppose I should add my reasons.

We need diverse books because the stories we tell have power. They can both reflect and reshape our world. Yes, I truly believe they can. The stories I grew up with certainly had an irreversible impact on how I live my life—sometimes for better, sometimes for worse.

The stories we tell must represent varying viewpoints, varying realities, varying moral choices and decisions, varying emotional and physical landscapes. The stories we consume must give us new perspectives, new skins to inhabit, new lives to live.

Stories not only tell us who we are and who we could be, they tell us what matters. Diversity matters. Different experiences and perspectives matter. And all stories must be told, all voices heard (some in print, some to family...stories are how we understand and express the world around us and inside us).

I'm at this conference and I love it, but I also worry. There are so many women. So many white woman. So many white middle class women. Conferences cost money, let me tell you. That's why I haven't attended many. I didn't shell out for an extra critique. I tell myself, not everyone can afford this, both the time and the expense. Surely, I think, surely those people can also be published.

And maybe they can. But networking is important, in every industry. I worry that it's not the consumer that is the problem, it's the old, familiar path to publishing. The money that buys the keys that gets you next to that agent or editor or in that life-changing workshop on craft that sends your writing in a new and thrilling trajectory. How do we close the gap? How do we make these resources accessible to all socioeconomic groups.

I don't know the answer, Reader, but I want us all to keep asking the question. And the follow up: HOW CAN I HELP? That's what I'll be thinking the rest of this weekend, and in the future.

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