I can’t be the only one that’s noticed inflammatory shit happening in the world of writing in the last few weeks. There was Lionel Shriver’s smug speech and the subsequent uproar a.k.a. Brisbane finally gets publicity apart from Tom Hiddleston’s visit and there was also Merritt Tierce’s article in Marie Claire a.k.a the Crying Starving Artist Personified or WTF is going on with Traditional Publishing or Writing isn’t a REAL JOB.
Ultimately these things focus on some big issues surrounding writers and the publishing world especially in the categories of representation and supporting your artists. They also highlight my ongoing frustration with artists everywhere called : Let’s put Labels on Everything and then Argue about Those Labels instead of Focussing on making Art.
I know a thing or two about labels. White, blonde, female. People put those on me like I’m somehow white privilege personified. I recently read an article that tore apart how I look and told me I shouldn’t dare to write a character with those attributes. I find this kind of amusing because one of the reasons why I started writing as a teenager was because all the white, blond, female characters where love interests or sexy lamp shades that hung around to be rescued. I didn’t have an Aelin from the Throne of Glass series to look up to. Have you seen one blonde in Star Wars? The closest I have gotten is Satine in Clone Wars who’s a pacifist that waits for Obi to bail her out all the time. The only blonde I could look up to was Eowyn from Lord of the Rings and thank God for her.
Dumb Blonde. There’s another label people like to put on me before they get to know me. I started writing with a blonde female protagonist to try and shake off that label too. It’s also assumed that I was a mean popular girl at school. Let me tell you something right now, I was probably the most bullied person in any school I went to. Oh sure I’m white and blonde but a last name like Kuivalainen was enough to wipe out any chance I had to fit in with the Aussie kids. Being half caste means you never belong anywhere; too weird and foreign for the Aussies, too Aussie for the Finns. I lived in a western New South Wales town and was bullied by Aboriginals for being white. I had rocks thrown at me because of what the whites did to their ancestors, even though mine weren’t early settlers but being ruled by the Swedes and Russians at the time. I’ve seen racist on the faces of every shade and nationality.
Christian Kid was another label that was whacked on me as a child and I got bullied about that too in a so called Western Christian country. Yeah, it’s not just the Muslim kids that get picked on about their religion in Australia. My parents raised me in the church and I knew by the time I was 15 that I was always going to be too argumentative and rough for the Christians. If you want to know, I was bullied by other Christian Kids too.
In recent times a label has been Self Published Writer. One of the reasons why I turned to SP is because I was told by Traditional Publishing professionals that my books were too foreign to be marketable. I’m a paranormal fantasy writer, a genre writer, and to some that doesn’t count as real writing because I don’t write literature. I refuse to be a starving artist or bitch about how publishing some how owes me a life where I can write full time. I won’t stop writing or publishing because I still have to work a 40 hour a week day job or because I’m also finishing a university degree. I do a lot but I’m able to have the luxury to write and publish books. I’m fucking blessed.
Labels, labels, everywhere no matter what you look like, where you come from, what you write, what you do. I write about displacement a lot in my books because I’ve felt bewildered and displaced my entire life.
I can see see why people are pissed off at Lionel and J K Rowling. If you are a writer that has the luxury of being able to write, do your research. You have an infinite number of resources at your finger tips. Don’t be ignorant of the cultures you choose to write about. Be respectful. If you make mistakes, as we all do, own them and try and do better next time. People trying to get the point across about representation shouldn’t choose to pull down the white, blonde, heterosexuals of the world in order to do that. Respect guys, we all want it and we all have to fight for it.
The peace keeper in me tries to see things from all points of view even though ignorant arseholes can make that difficult. I can’t help but sit back and think that if all the writers and artists in the world united against something like the Syrian Refugee Crisis instead of using all this creative energy to attack and cannibalise each other, we could make a real difference.
Artist’s have the unique ability to jump into the heads of others, to see the world differently, so why are we using those abilities to attack each other instead of showing the world how to do shit better? Art is a universal language, it’s timeless and powerful, why do you think ISIS is determined to destroy it all time? It’s beyond skin colour and belief. It’s truth, it’s power.
Writing is magical. If you need to be reminded about how to be a writer or you need to remember that magic is real read this article about Alan Moore.
2016 has been a shit fight for everyone and as Chuck Wendig recently said so eloquently in his blog It is Art That Will Help Us Survive, “…let the art flow, motherfuckers. It may be the only way we stay sane enough to make it to 2017.”