I posted this over on Patreon, but I wanted to share it here with you too:
(A brief digression from mostly silence. Possibly a bit of politics.)
First: I believe that everyone who’s editing or publishing diverse anthologies or authors is doing so because they love the stories they’re publishing. I don’t believe anyone who says otherwise. I don’t want to rehash the Puppies’ arguments (oh god please no); at most if you squint maybe I’m tangent to them? A glancing touch and then I proceed rapidly away. I have heard their arguments (and how) and found them not just unsound but uninteresting.
First, again: I believe that everyone who’s editing or publishing diverse anthologies or authors is doing so because they love the stories they’re publishing.
Second: please, editors and publishers of diverse books—say that you love the stories, and say why.
I’m always concerned with representation and equality and the great Social Justice Warrior values. I am also a sad, busy human who is more easily moved to buy books and (more importantly) read books and (most importantly) tell others about books because they are Sad! or Funny! or Angry! or Heartwarming! or All Of Those Feels At Once! and that they have an uncommon perspective and abstract political ideals that I share.
Because I know these diverse books overflow with virtues—they are smart and funny and angry and touching and well-written and have that uncommon perspective and engage with abstract political ideals that I care about. Please tell me about those more mundane virtues too. Their ideals give them meaning and purpose—what makes them sing to you?
I do think it’s scary to love something, especially for us, especially right now. To be genuinely enthusiastic is to open yourself up to criticism without giving yourself much defensive fallback, and that’s especially scary when we know there’s a small mob in our community who are part of a larger mob without it who are ready to shit on anyone they get a yearning to.
I think we fall back to expressing ourselves in these abstract political terms because at least then we have the comfort of a community of people who also care about these abstract political ideals to band together with, and it’s not just our love, our taste, mine, Kellan Sparver’s, on the line and potentially under attack.
So we also need reviewers, friends, allies, readers, whatever you’re called—when you love diverse books, please say that and say what you love about them!
And editors and publishers—you can’t be everywhere on the Internet, but if you see your fans dogpiling an otherwise enthusiastic reviewer, friend, ally, reader who made a mistake, please do at least try to defuse them? Just because your fans are right doesn’t mean that they are justified in being assholes, especially to someone who’s enthusiastic about your work.
I watched this happen once—there was an anthology (no I will not name names) which had been marketed by its editors primarily in abstract political terms. I was aware of the anthology but didn’t feel particularly excited about buying it. I read a review which enthusiastically explained all the concrete things which were also cool about the stories and finally convinced me to buy the book, and then before I could do so, I watched a pile of people whale on the reviewer for a genuine but disproportionate mistake, which shriveled up my interest in buying or reading the book. I think if I were a better person I might have bought it anyway, but I am often tired and much put off by unkindness.
I think what I am saying is, I know we are all enthusiastic about diverse books for a diversity of reasons including their diversity. Enthusiasm is contagious—let’s work together to make the world a happier! funnier! sadder! angrier! and more diverse world!
Okay, I’ll go first.
Guys, guys. O_O I don’t know that I can express how much I love Fumi Yoshinaga’s “What Did You Eat Yesterday?” manga series. It’s half Japanese home comfort food cookbook (I mean, like, half of each issue is just a meal’s worth of recipes for good cheap tasty food, in comic form) and half understated gay slice-of-life story and it’s super sweet and touching and I shouldn’t read it before bed because it makes me hungry but I do anyway… O_O;; I’m really enjoying it.
How about you? What’s awesome about something diverse you’ve read lately?