Sensitivity in Writing
This has been on my mind for a while, and even talking about this could potentially be hazardous. It's just the world we live in, which is awkward for writers. So... with that said, let me preface this blog post: if I say anything in this that comes off as offensive or insensitive, please understand it was never intended as such. I merely believe that we as a society, and especially artists exploring themes, should be free and able to speak about any subject that moves them.
So... there's a lot of things in writing that are hard to talk about. Religion. Race. Physical disabilities. Sexual preferences and gender identity. Mental health issues. Domestic abuse. The list goes on and on and on. It feels like a mine field when daring to even discuss these topics. I mean, that's why we have sensitivity editors for our work!
So where do you go when you have to deal with these issues in your writing? Can you only writing about sensitive subjects if you yourself are a member of that community? But if you ignore those portions of the community, are you guilty of non-inclusion? It feels like walking the edge of a knife. You're easily screwed whether you do it or don't do it. I can see the allure of writing in complete fantasy worlds where you don't have to acknowledge certain things.
So I have problems, since my world isn't entirely unique. I work in Urban Fantasy, which is layering fantasy elements over the real world. That means, on top of having a world where there are vampires and werewolves, this is still a world that has child abuse, conflicting religious dogmas, LGBTQ people, and people who suffer from depression. How do these factor into my work? It's... hard.
As I said before, you can't just ignore it all and hope no one cares, but at the same time, any mentions need to be done with sensitivity and tact. I won't speak to what issues my novel currently includes (I won't say "addresses," but they aren't the main issue, just a piece of the story), but know that I, like so many other writers, am dealing with this, too. From deciding what a character's sexual orientation is, even if it never comes up, to just deciding if I should mention that a character is black or Asian.
It's.. exhausting. But that's what edits are about, I suppose. Just know, everyone out there, writers rarely go into these subjects to upset anyone. We see the world and we want to represent it. Sometimes that means representing delicate issues or issues that most would rather not acknowledge. But we need to be true to our art. That means the good, the bad, and the unique, should all be permitted, all be allowed to be seen in the light, examined, and commented on. It's done with honesty, never hostility. Curiosity, never cruelty. And sincerity, never mockery.
Remember. Be Excellent to Each Other.
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Keep your eyes open for my debut novel, The Paladin.