Brave the Waters: A kings Tweet.

I wanna be better.

 

The Stephen King tweet above about diversity got me thinking. And I think that’s a good thing. Whether you took (or didn’t take) offense to his tweet, whether the context is right or wrong, I read a number of the responses and had one initial take that I had to go back and reevaluate.

I’m a white guy in my forties. I’m all for diversity in the world. I find myself rolling my eyes at dumb white guys who can’t see that white privilege IS a thing. When I first read King’s tweet, I saw it from my side of the fence. I pointed out to a responder that I believed King was just talking about being authentic in your art no matter who you are or what your background is.

As I got a couple of responses, I started to step back from my own initial feelings and thoughts and look at where I was coming from. I told myself, I don’t write a lot of diverse characters in my own work because I don’t want to misrepresent a culture or way of life I know nothing about. And that’s right, right?

Well, then I stepped back even further and looked at some of the many things I dare to write about that I honestly don’t know tons about.  I will willingly write about police, police procedures, murderers and murders, criminals that do things I’ve never come close to doing, and a billion other things that I either research or completely makeup.

It turns out I may have been lined up next to my white privilege buddies…and that bugs me.

With that in mind, how do I then use that old excuse to not write more diverse characters into my stories? What is preventing me from doing the research? Can’t I just as easily offend a law enforcement officer that reads my work as say, a black man or Japanese woman that finds my book? Yet, I don’t let it stop me in most areas of my storytelling.

I think my goal for 2020 is to brave the waters of diversity. I have friends I can reach out to with questions, I have books I can read, documentaries I can watch. The resources are out there, and as a white writer, I just have to stop stopping myself from using them. And you know what? My writing will probably be better for it.

Whatever comes from the King tweet, let’s try to look at it from other people’s perspectives. Let’s try to use it to make what we do better. Even if that is just discussing it and opening a dialog with one another.

Thanks for listening, and stay positive.

-GR

One comment

  1. moteridgerider · January 15, 2020

    It’s an interesting and disquieting facet of modern writing. I know in the past that King has described how he’ll write about areas of sensitivity; aspects such as sexual orientation, race, feminist issues (see his short novel, ‘Elevation.’) He does this to push the boundaries, to explore areas of human thinking and to learn more about himself. This was written a few years ago and maybe he’s been stung too much by criticism since. Hence the latest tweet. One thing’s for sure, he hasn’t been averse to taking risks with his writing, and all writers are vulnerable in this sense. A couple of years ago I wrote a book featuring four stories, each featuring a prominent female protagonist. I did it simply to force myself into a different perspective, to get inside women’s heads, so to speak. I don’t know how well it went down as I got no reviews for it (lol.) Perhaps I might not have liked the feedback if, like you, I had misrepresented what I was writing about. But I’m sure glad I took the adventure. Maybe, even, it has improved the quality of my writing – something that King would approve of.
    All the best with your pursuance of diversity this year. I’m sure it will be educative and worthwhile.

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