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"

Friday, February 3, 2017

Depth


Taking this class, my muse has taken some hits.  I don't go deep enough because I do too much plot at the beginning of my scenes.  I like this piece that I just sent in to my instructor.  What do all of you think of it?


Threatening darkness loomed in the background.  Swirling puffy snowflakes assaulted the asphalt road, turning it into a gray wasteland, like a desert backdrop.  The glitter on each flake reflected off the headlights, blinding, reminding Nancy of a spaceship going into warp drive into the desert of space, only the small Escort lacked four-wheel drive let alone the navigational system for the confidence to propel forward with security of travel. 

Forty mile an hour winds whipped the hazardous snow around causing low visibility, much like what her military husband explained to her about the sandstorms in Iraq.  In the comfort of her own home, typically she loved to watch a winter storm from her kitchen window, all snug in the warmth and safety home.  She also loved shoveling the sidewalk and driveway in a snowstorm.   The exertion of conquering the elements, like her pioneering ancestors, filled her with a sense of accomplishment.

Drifting snow piled on the side of the road against the silver guard rail, slithering out into the lane ready to strike out at the tires.

The jeering of the windshield wipers mocked me as the rubber grated on the window.  The heater roared.  All the noises clawing on her stressed nerves.  The music from the stereo blared Beatles tunes to distract from the loss of site, the fear.  She hated snowstorms while riding or driving in a car.  Visions of her sister-in-law laying in a casket assaulted her memory, dying in a storm in the middle of Minnesota countryside.

The musky smell of wet dog permeated the air due to the Beagle standing sentinel in between the front seats shielding his desert queen sitting next to him and the princes in the back from harm.  His back paws on the rear seat and the front paws on the seat divider in the front.  His eyes never leaving the darkness in front of them as if he willed the car to stay on the road, their little protector. 

Her parched mouth thirsted from the anxiety as if she was in a desert.  The irony of the wet flakes falling in front of her only made the desire for drink heightened.  A thermos of hot chocolate lay on the floor of the car, like an oasis, just out of reach.  She longed for a stiff drink to calm her nerves.