I was looking at prompts today to see if anything sparked my interest on something to add to my list of things I want to write about when a prompt sparked my thought process and sent me spiraling a little.
There are often times when a writer is brilliant, but when their life is looked upon they fall short. And in present day, many people think the only solution is to not support that author, and that's fair, I think. I mean, I don't have a better 'solution', but something about that just feels... wrong. I mean, I completely understand why some people do it or say it. But they didn't start writing because they wanted fame. They didn't start writing to get noticed. Sure, it comes with it if you're lucky. There are many famous books out there. However, there are even more brilliant ones that hardly anyone has ever heard of. Does that make them less good? Does that make the person behind them less accountable?
I think my biggest problem with this 'cancellation' of authors is that everyone in the entire world has shortcomings. They say things wrong, and when they try to clear it up, it just gets twisted. Or maybe they blatantly and ignorantly mess up. Maybe they lack an understanding about every single issue out there. Does that really make their work, their breathing line that insignificant?
Take J.K. Rowling for example. She's struggled on platforms like Twitter trying to untwist and only to retwist homophobic statements. Her books lacked diversity in a lot of ways. There were no people with disabilities, there was "queerbaiting", and there was a lack of many other races. So yea, she has shortcomings, and might not be the best person. I'm not arguing that. But does this make her work any less brilliant?
Or what about the similar thing that happened to Sarah Dessen? People defended her books, however they do lack a similar diversity. Or when Lori Wick, was donating to a church that eventually got in trouble for child abuse. There's a good chance she had absolutely no idea it was happening and was just donating simply because she was a Christian author, but she lost all her support. She doesn't write anymore. At least not to my knowledge. And yes, these weren't great moments for them. But people make big mistakes every single day. And they typically don't lose their jobs because of it. Not that anyone actually lost their job in my list.
I also want to point out most people write what they know. Or at least, I do and all my friends who like to write do. The plots are different. But this character is similar to this person. This character has the hair of this person. This character would say this like that person does. You take the feelings that you feel or have felt and you put them in new places. For me, writing is my safe place. I can say what I would never say to someone's face, good or bad. It's where I can be the hero and the failure all in one. It's pieces of you and your life or the absolute total opposite. However, when I personally write, I don't write about things I don't know much about. I'm not writing to learn at this point. I'm writing to process and feel the things I ignore usually. I'm writing to get stories out of my head, so I can focus on real life. And as much as I'd love to have more diversity in my stories, it does lack in those aspects. And it isn't because I don't care about black lives or disabilities. It's not because I don't care about the genocides or LGBTQ+ communities or anything going on in the world around me. It's much more simple than that.
I'm not black. I'm not disabled. I'm not LGBTQ+. I'm not being prosecuted. I'm a white straight female who grew up in a predominately white area. I have a sister who is disabled, but the only point of view I have on any of that is from the outside. Of course, I've read books that opened my eyes on a lot. And of course I want to support these causes and show representation. However, it feels forced if I try to bring it into my stories because again, I am an outsider. And I can only speak for myself on these issues in literature, however, I'm sure I'm not alone in these feelings. And sure, I could go do research. And I could try and place myself in these situations that I've never experienced. But I'd feel like a fraud. And what if I get it wrong? What if in an attempt to bring representation, I only bring hurt to that community? This doesn't mean I won't try in the future, however, when I'm writing, I'm not writing for anyone but myself. And yes, I'd love you to like it. And yes, I would love to make an income one day doing the thing that helps me breathe. But if there's nobody in the entire world that ever reads and likes my stuff, that's fine. I'll live.
So, now we talked a little bit about why sometimes writing lacks diversity and authors are sometimes shitty human beings. But does this really effect their books? Are their books really the unreadable when the person behind them sucks? Reading books like Saint Anything by Sarah Dessen and Harry Potter by J.K Rowling, and White Chocolate by Lori Wick have all affected my life a great deal. For a time, if I didn't have Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone on in movie form I would have never slept.
I just struggle with this concept that when someone is not perfect, they get cut. I understand that in an ideal world, everyone would love everyone and they would always say and do the right things. But we're humans. And when looking back on the past, we still read books and poetry by 'terrible' people. Like Edgar Allen Poe was a drunk. And his work is still beloved by many, and no one seems to be criticizing him. Is it different once the author is dead?
As much as society deems that you have to be professional all the time, it is not possible. It is not always easy to say the right things, and be under constant scrutiny. Obviously, more representation needs to come out in all areas. But I do not feel it is the authors job to have to place it in their stories if it would be forced, or harmful to to the community they are trying to help. I think it's important to remember that authors are human beings with real feelings and real thoughts that sometimes just get lost in translation, and sometimes are just shitty. They also can't fully support every cause in the world because it's not humanly possible and it's exhausting to try. However, there is no easy solution to separating the author from the book.
What are your thoughts on this? Did my author rant make sense or did you read it and simply go 'what the hell did I just read'? Let me know in the comments.