January 14th, 2009

inara-shadows - ladytirimasu

Writing what we don't precisely 'know'.

There is an interesting discussion going on at Elizabeth Bear's journal today that started a couple of days ago, with another post, to which this was a reaction, but really this topic has been circulating the blogosphere for some time before that, even. (This post by deepad is also extremely relevant.)

Okay. Wow, where to start? First, let me say this issue has been turning around in my mind for awhile, now, as it significantly relates to my own writing. Also, I don't want to offend anyone, but as this is as much an emotional issue as abortion or rape, it's almost a guarantee of offending someone just by talking about it. Here are a couple in inalienable truths before I dive in to my thoughts:

1. I am a white woman in my thirties, born and raised in the US.

2. As such, you are right - I do not have the knowledge and understanding of your culture, however it differs from my own, that you do! That means anything I write different from my own background, is going to have readers who know more about that background than I do, no matter how much I research it.

3. Ergo, someone is likely to pick up on my mistakes.

4. Which brings me to - MISTAKES in and of themselves do NOT make an author racist. Sorry, they don't. And also - and here is an unpopular opinion - not every nuance of character that can be read as racism or prejudice IS a mistake.

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