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.

True CONfessions

Poem written during NESCBWI 2014

In a Hotel

Normally I dislike public shaming
But I must protest you vigorously banging
My wall,
At all of 3:30 AM.
The headboard knock-knocked me straight out of my REM.
I awoke with the suddenness of a loud slap,
Which is just what I heard when I was wrenched from my nap.
Perhaps I should thank you for waking me up,
Except you've made it clear you don't give a--
Luckily this gives me time to prepare,
For my agent critique: say, rip out my hair,
Or reread the schedule.
Though instead I count the times
That you say, "Oh my God!"
(I'm at eight or nine.)
This is what happens when you book a room,
Across the street from the Con, I presume.
You clearly have different priorities
Than chatting up agents and eating free cheese.
I know I should just go back to bed,
But I can't get this stupid poem out of my head.
Perhaps I should thank you for waking my muse,
But given your volume that's hardly news.
And I'd much prefer getting some more beauty sleep,
Than crafting an ode to your bleepity-bleep.
So next time you want to jump bones on the bed,
Might I suggest the floor instead?

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Interlude in Bed with Sleeping Cat

Hello, Reader. As I mentioned before, I feel compelled to blog again. Not only because I miss it, but because I'm going to a conference this weekend (NESCBWI) and it seems a smart thing to do professionally.

Platform...I think a lot about platform. Writers need them. A social media presence is expected. And yet wouldn't my time be better spent writing stories?

I'm not sure what I should be blogging about. I should probably cast the blog aside for Tumblr. I wonder what Mochi thinks. She is the rescue cat we adopted about a month ago. It's very nice to type in bed on a laptop with a cat curled up at my feet.

What an indecisive blog post this has turned out to be. I simply wonder: does a unpublished writer's blog serve a purpose? Does it build an audience? Or does it only work if I blog about food or cute animals or something? I wonder. I am curious.

Mochi doesn't seem interested in this conversation. She just wants me to never move my leg because it's propping her up perfectly and also she would like me to occasionally scratch her head.

I'm off to scratch her head now, Reader.