Monday, February 20, 2017

Sensitivity Readers


As expected, I work every morning on the current events of writing.  I follow a few blogs that discuss little ways of enriching my work.  They also talk about new trends, business, marking, and all things that go into the world of the written word.  Today, I read about a new trend: sensitivity readers.  Are you kidding me?

I am frustrated.  The industry says I have to pay thousands of dollars for a cover, thousands of dollars for a book doctor, and thousands of dollars for an editor.  Now, I am supposed to hire a sensitivity reader.  Writers are beginning to get criticized for writing about things they don't know about.  Really?  Isn't that the whole point is for the writers to research and discover and take their readers with them?  We can't come off as racist or prejudice in our books.  We can't offend.  I am sorry but people offend me all the time with their liberal agenda, loose sex, extreme violence, and that is perfectly is okay.  Yet, now they want to sensor me?  It isn't all okay.  I as a writer have a right to express my ideals in my writing.  If I offend a reader with my ideals that they don't want to hear about, go somewhere else to read.  I don't care.  I have all of their agendas shoved down my throat.  Face it, pay back is a bitch!  If they can have their voice, so can I!

Now the industry is saying we need sensitivity readers.  I don't think so.  I hope I piss people off because no one is being sensitive to me.  I am so sick of seeing and reading through sex scenes.  I am beyond appalled at all the sex outside of marriage that is promoted everywhere I turn.  I want to pass my ideals on to my reader.  They can reflect on them and apply them or toss them.  It doesn't matter.  I just want people to hear another perspective.

Anyway, as always, I am feeling very emotional about this and struggling with the writing.  And yes, I have gone on a tirade.  Let me breath for a moment.  I want to be heard.  I am getting tired of being the little mouse in a corner and writing fluffy stuff so I don't get any controversy thrown in my face.  What happened to the days of having a voice and people either loved the writer or they simply stopped reading the work.  People weren't lambasted all over the media.  I miss those days.

Okay, now that I have spouted, I will try to be a little more logical.  The article I read about sensitive readers had a few good points.  One, if I am writing about modern day poverty and my main character is poor, I need to do some major research because I am not poor.  To write authentically, I need to try to walk in their steps, interview them, and hire a couple poor people to read the manuscript to show me where I am wrong.  I shouldn't be hiring a sensitive reader.  For heavens sake, they are probably just as white as me and probably making more money.  They know poor as well as I do!

Now, let's say I write about a white middleclass prejudice woman working with the poor through ministry.  She is going to be offensive.  That is reality.  So hate the character, not the writer for goodness sake.  Show authentic resentment from the poor people she is helping.  If the writer doesn't show the resentment through the secondary characters, they aren't a good writer, people won't buy their work, and voila, problem is solved.  We don't need sensitivity readers.

I will never hire a professional for this task.  I may ask for help from people who know.  I may pay a laymen of the group I am writing about if I think it is needed.  I might end up writing things wrong.  However, I will always write authentic to who I am, warts and all.  People have found Mark Twain and Harper Lee offensive.  I congratulate these authors because they have also made people think.  What a compliment!  Have I been offended by writers?  You bet.  I hated "The Golden Compass," "The Da Vinci Code," and "The Magicians" with how they represented my faith.  Would I ban them?  Not in a million years.  People feel that way about my faith.  Reading the books helped me to understand a different perspective.  Would I lambast Dan Brown?  Even if he asked my personal opinion, I would tell him that I loved the detail and research he used in the book.  I would tell him I have a completely different idea of who Jesus is and that I am sad that there is in fact corruption in the church.  I respect Dan for his fine writing and staying authentic to himself.

If we as readers and writers hide from the truth of life and let it be censored from our lives, we become ignorant.  However, with that said, I am sick and tired of all the yelling and tantrums that every side is taking to be heard.  Grow up people.  Show a little decorum.

Life is very short, and there's no time
For fussing and fighting, my friend

                        Beatles, "We Can Work It Out"

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