Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Take a Character, Leave a Character - Absolute Write Blog Chain

Time once again for the Absolute Write Blog Chain. The method to the this month's madness is to take a character from the preceding story and write a new story with them. Create some new characters so the next in line has something to choose from. Definitely worth following the change to see how the characters are crossing through in such cool ways, into different genres and worlds. Start at the beginning and work your way back here:

orion_mk3 - http://nonexistentbooks.wordpress.com (link to post)
Ralph Pines - http://ralfast.wordpress.com (link to post)
Sixpence - http://orlawritesthings.com/ (link to post)

writingismypassion - http://charityfaye.blogspot.com/ 
Sneaky Devil - http://fantasywriterwannabe.wordpress.com/ 

And without further ado, here's my entry:


"Wait. I don't understand."

The poor soul tried to look around, but it doesn't work when your incorporeal. Jeremiah sympathized. Hundreds of years after he left his own body, he still occasionally expected it to be there. "Relax your thoughts and let me explain. You are deceased, a pure consciousness with no physical form."

"So I'm dead? Is this Heaven?" Tom asked.

"Your previous existence has ended, but your spirit is eternal." Jeremiah always found it hard to convey true meaning with the limited words of earthly language, but until a spirit awakened to the reality of infinite wisdom, it was the only way to communicate. "There is no Heaven as you call it, but only the universe as a whole; a far richer and more complicated landscape than Christian theology holds."

"Come again?"

"You ain't dead, just your body. Your soul is in limbo until we find an appropriate vessel for your return." Jeremiah hated such coarseness.

"Soul? Vessel? Return?" The last word carried hope with it.

"Yes, you're journey is not complete. You will be reborn in another form to learn that which escaped you in previous incarnations." It would be much simpler if memories transferred directly from life to life, but perhaps that would make it too easy. The path must be difficult to be worthy of such a reward. 

A warm light filled the void without illuminating anything. Jeremiah basked in it's glow and knowledge washed over him. 

Tom's spirit rustled. "What was that? Am I going somewhere?"

"The decision has been made." Jeremiah let his sadness permeate his words; maybe it would encourage change. "Your act of rage has condemned you to lower form. May you learn humility and find peace in this simpler existence."

Jeremiah felt the struggle as Tom's presence swept away. The Powers That Be could be harsh, but ultimately they were fair. He turned his attention to a new arrival. "Try to relax, brother Wesley. You have reached a respite on your journey to enlightenment. A well needed rest by the looks of it."


Tom felt his identity stripped away as he became aware of a new form existing around him. His thoughts grew fuzzy and his belly itched.

"That a girl, Mabel." The vet finished the last of the sutures. "I thought we lost you there for a moment. You might never chase cars again, but there's lots a dog can do with three legs."

Thursday, May 1, 2014

We Need Diverse Books!

If you haven't already heard, a new campaign has been launched to increase diversity in children's literature. The hashtag is #weneeddiversebooks and you can follow the tumblr site here. I'm not involved in the organization of the campaign in any way, but do wholeheartedly support it. If you want more of the backstory and what all is entailed, check out this blog post by Ellen Oh.

In some ways, I feel it should be self-evident why we need diversity in literature. That the more stories the better, that disadvantaged minorities can be uplifted by stories featuring people like them, that the more inclusive our society is the more we all have to gain. But there is a counter argument that always comes up, and it actually has some merit. I want to look at the other side and give it due diligence, because you can't win an argument on the internet but you can discuss topics in a civilized manner. Really - it's allowed :)

No one actually says that diversity is a bad thing (if they do, they can be safely ignored). But some people worry that the push for diversity means attacking those who are not diverse. It's a worry that we will over-correct and any story with a white male protagonist will no longer be allowed. The fear is normally voiced by white males and those who have achieved success in the current system. It's perfectly natural and understandable. And it's actually a good point.

The thing is, diversity includes white males. It includes the majority. It has to, otherwise it isn't true diversity. A world where every character is a person of color, genderfluid, or a little green alien would be just as bad as the current situation. The people who are pushing for diversity need to understand and express this clearly - everyone, including the old guard, including white men in power, including those who have succeeded in the current system, is welcome in a diverse world.

The problem with the way things stand is that the playing field wasn't level when it was created. The argument that white male writers have a disproportionate amount of success and recognition because they have achieved (earned) it ignores the fact that they had a leg up to start with. The entire world (in this country at least) is geared for them and if you continue to let the status quo exist it will reinforce itself. There does need to be some tearing down, digging up the earth to flatten the high ground and fill in the holes that exist. Then things can be judged on their merit. Then we can let the better man (or woman or little green alien or whatever) win.

That does mean that diversity will get an extra push. That those without privilege will get more spotlight time and extra opportunities. It's not a head start but a chance to catch up. It's not about weighing down those in front, but distributing the load more fairly. Once we're all even, then the race can start again.

In the mean time, rest assured that people will still buy stories with white male protagonists. Good books will still sell because they're good (and bad books will still sell because many people have bad taste:). The world will not change overnight, but it does need to change. Diversity includes everyone, so everyone should be on board.

There is an undercurrent to the argument against diversity that is a little darker. The whole discussion becomes a proxy for a simpler struggle, those in power want to keep it and those who are disadvantaged by the current system want to change it. I talked at length about it in this post on a similar theme in the science fiction/fantasy world. If the fight is about power, then it's going to get messy. If those who have it won't share, then a revolution is necessary. It's the history of the world repeated over and over, and the world of kidlit is no different.