This week I wrote “THE END” on my 4th manuscript—the crappy first draft, or “sloppy copy” as I and other English teachers have used in the past. To be perfectly honest, I didn’t actually type the words, “THE END”. In fact, I never do. I don’t know why. What I do know is this is the fourth time finishing a draft (actually, sixth, if you count the two kids’ chapter books I’ve also drafted, which why wouldn’t I include those? Because that makes six books I haven’t published, that’s why). This time around, while a good feeling, was not quite as exhilarating, probably because for the first time ever, by word count alone, it is too short. OTOH, I already know ways I will deepen the layers and this will even it all out. The hard part right now is CLOSING the document and letting it sit so I can look at it with fresh eyes in a couple of weeks and do the part I like best: revision!
Please don’t be this person in your critques or your reviews:
“I also think the author tried too hard to keep it ethnically diverse. When the friend’s fiancée was also black in addition to mixed, Hispanic, white, and bi-sexual, the details were a little unbelievable.”
If your character is Irish, Norwegian, Polish, German, white AND straight, I simply won’t buy into him.
The quote above came from a review of a book by a black author. White people don’t usually think of themselves as “mixed”, and yes, the term usually refers to race, but I think my counterexample gets across the point. Do we really think a multi-racial bisexual man doesn’t exist? I’ve had people tell me that my story with a woman who has a transgender best friend and a bisexual husband is “too many”. Do readers really believe my transgender friends and relatives live in isolation from one another? That my friends of color can’t be more than one thing?
My favorite piece on bias in book reviews is still this one by author Malinda Lo. In 2020, when #ownvoices authors—especially in adult fiction—still can’t get a fair shot in publishing, we white readers can do our part by recognizing our bias and do better with our reviews.
The past few weeks have seen a lot of talk about Jeanine Cummins’ debut, American Dirt. I’m not going to summarize it all here, you can find plenty about it in the interwebs, but I do want to highlight one article I read. A library in Corpus Christi, Texas, was chosen to be part of a pilot program to partner with Oprah’s book club (which is currently featuring Cummin’s novel) and other prominent organizations. Upon learning of the issues the Latinx community had with the novel, the librarian chose to withdraw from the pilot program. This is allyship.
“I Can Do Hard Things”*
One of the best things I’ve seen so far this year has been at one of my local YMCA branches. A woman who is probably in her mid-to late fifties is learning to swim. She has been doing water walking for quite some time and a couple of weeks ago, she dunked her head under water for the very first time in I don’t know how many years. We all cheered! Sometimes our bucket list includes extravagant things, and other times it looks like this woman. May we all find a way to face at least one of our fears in the coming year.
Currently Reading (audio):I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings – Maya Angelou
Currently Reading (print): 10 Minutes and 39 Seconds in This Strange World – Elif Shafak
*Borrowed from my elementary school’s daily pledge.
Song of the Week:
Our local high school’s Wind Ensemble is performing at the Minnesota Music Educator’s Association conference in a couple of weeks and they gave us a preview performance. They sounded amazing. I kind of wanted to post their performance of Rhapsody in Blue, because, wow, but this one – Einstein on 6th Street is much shorter and equally impressive. 🙂