This is something that’s been bothering me for a while and needs to be said. That’s not to say that no one else has said it before, but it is impacting my life as a writer, and will impact yours, too. And if you haven’t lived long enough to realize it yet, staying silent about a problem does not solve it. Or put another way, all that is necessary for evil to flourish is for good men to do nothing.
In the progression of activities in my own writing regimen, sometime after I begin writing a story, I submit it to market (Heinlein would be pleased that I pay attention to his rules.) I have my own criteria about which markets are worthwhile to me to submit, generally based around their rate of pay (professional only, please), which also takes care of trying to get cred to join the SFWA. If I don’t get picked up by a publisher in this round, eventually I go to the indie publishing market and publish myself.
Realize that when you submit through the “traditional” publishing route, you are subject to their desires and tastes. Remember, there is (almost) no accounting for taste. Don’t lose heart if one rejects you – there still may be an editor out there who finds your story exceptional. And if not, there are still plenty of readers out there who will give it a go.
Some publications will give pointers on what they’re looking for, so instead of reading their publication and guessing whether they will like your stories, you will see very specific guidelines, such as word count limits, or specific genres, or prohibitions against erotica, or language, or something as story specific as no time-travel, or “nothing where kids find something in their backyard.” These are all well and good, and I appreciate their honesty.
There is one that I find troublesome – when a magazine calls for DIVERSITY; diversity of both characters and authors. This is not about people who think differently (which is what I believe true diversity is), but about superficial things like skin-color, religion, ethnic background, gender identification, and so on. And the reason it is troublesome to me is that, especially when writing FICTION, one of the objectives is to take the reader inside someone else’s head. To do this, the writer should also know how to get inside other people’s heads as well.
So why this insistence that ONLY a person of a particular background can write about that background? For example, only a Swede is capable of writing about Swedes. There seems to be an unstated assumption here – that when you boil it all down, all Swedes are the same. Isn’t this racism at its basic level?
Didn’t Dr. King look forward to the day that a man would not be judged by the color of his skin, but by the content of his character?
A decent writer should be able to write about any kind of character, regardless of whether they resemble the author. In speculative fiction, the writer even has to be able to take his imagination further afield, and get inside the heads of races / species / genders / civilizations that may not exist anywhere outside the author’s mind. Will we insist that only Martians can write Martian Characters? Or only Betelgeuseans…? You get the picture.
As a writer, am I to be restricted to writing ONLY about American male heterosexuals who are x-years old, of Italian, Irish, English, Scottish and Sicilian heritage? My gosh, wouldn’t that be a boring book? Every author restricted to writing about a whole cast of their own clones. Who would want to read this stuff?
The main thing about publications who offer this guidance, is that they appear to be more interested in pushing an agenda than telling a good story. There are plenty of avenues for proselytizing, folks; leave our fiction alone.
This week’s Smashwords coupon is for “The Re-Entanglement of Grant Decker”:
Are we simply the sum of the choices we’ve made?
Grant can’t keep his reality in focus. His daughter thinks he’s having senior moments, but he knows that’s not it – those voices he’s hearing just don’t care how embarrassing they make things. He’s never been one to talk to himself, but maybe it’s time. How else will he know if his life is coming apart or coming together?
What does it add up to?
This started out with me (as often happens) worrying about my poor memory, and whether I might eventually suffer from out-and-out dementia. Then I wondered – what if an aging person’s confusion might be because they’re experiencing multiple timelines (if your life flashes before your eyes when you die, what if all your possible lives did it?)
Use coupon code HQ93G to get 67% off the cover price at Smashwords (that’s only 99-cents – such a deal!) – it’s good until June 25th. Here’s the link:
“The Re-Entanglement of Grant Decker” is also available in the collection – Yet Still Even More Things I Could Get Out of My Mind.
It’s decided – my July 1st release will be “Mating Rituals. No, let’s see how long it takes me to pull it all together…
William Mangieri’s writing, including his latest publication More, And Yet Still Even More Things I Could Get OUT OF MY MIND, can be found in many places, including:
• Smashwords: https://www.smashwords.com/profile/view/NoTimeToThink
• His Amazon Author page: http://www.amazon.com/-/e/B008O8CBDY
• Barnes & Noble: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/s/william-mangieri?store=book&keyword=william+mangieri
• Createspace (if you prefer physical books): https://www.createspace.com/pub/simplesitesearch.search.do?sitesearch_query=william+mangieri&sitesearch_type=STORE
To CONNECT WITH HIM (and LIKE and FOLLOW), go to
• His site on WordPress: https://williammangieri.wordpress.com
• “William Mangieri’s Writing Page” on Facebook at: http://www.facebook.com/NoTimeToThink
• His Goodreads author page: http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/6893616.William_Mangieri
• Or on twitter: @WilliaMangieri