Today, I have read the usual flurry of "you don't understand me" Tweets by people of diverse faiths, races, dis/abilities. In the publishing cyberverse are the usual posts about how too many cis white women are writing stories of others' experiences. So much criticism and creative energy is put into gaining traction for these hashtags about what is wrong or absent from our libraries, what is ugly in our world. I'm not denying what these people are pointing out. But I also KNOW that you are not required to submit a photograph with your manuscript submissions--I know that editors are seeking all kinds of WELL WRITTEN stories--I know writers of diverse backgrounds whose work is on shelves NOT because of their color but because of their HARD WORK and amazing TALENT. I also know that in Saturday's WSJ (3/19-20/16), book reviewer Jonathan Rose speaks of a young African refugee who cites Jane Eyre because "'I always read novels that have the same background as me'...struggling to survive in a chilly, inhospitable northern climate." I know that, as a young reader, I saw myself in W. Somerset Maughams Philip Cary (OF HUMAN BONDAGE)--a male orphan whose emotional pain was so like my own. I AM TIRED of the misguided notion that young readers are so simple, so stupid that they cannot see themselves (their hearts, their pains, their souls) in a person of another gender, race, type of sexuality. In picture books, like the great WEMBERLY WORRIED, small children are asked to see themselves in the character of a mouse. No problem. Girls, boys, adults, children all love Harry Potter--all embrace his journey of finding self, finding family. Just this week, my agent has forwarded along two rejections from editors today on a book that I've been working VERY HARD on but, maybe, it's not good enough. MOST BOOKS AREN'T, no matter what color the author. It takes a HUGE AMOUNT of time, revision, energy, thought, research, homework, soul-searching to write a publication-worthy book. It's hard to do when you're using up your best words complaining about what you want to see, what isn't on shelves.
So, today, I wish all those passionate, meme-creating, (sometimes a little bit patronizing), "misunderstood" folks would channel their creativity into books to help me understand. #WRITETHEBOOKS