The Freedom to Create

I should have mentioned this sooner, but it’s Banned Books Week! Give a banned and/or challenged book a good home where it will be read and loved, not censored. If you’re up to it, read it in public. To help you out, here is a list of last year’s challenged or banned books 2o10 – 2011.

Maybe I’ll do a more detailed explanation of BBW some other time (for now, note that a ban and a challenge are not the same thing, so banned books week is a bit of a misnomer), right now, I want to talk about something I’ve discovered while writing my Big Story.

Namely, that it feels really good to be able to write what I want to write about without having to worry about gatekeepers breathing down my neck. In a world where two people of the same sex can’t marry (and, in some cases, where they can be put to death) it’s nice to have this space in my head where not only can two people of the same sex marry (and they do so) even the pantheon gets in on the action. Feel like you’re a man trapped in a woman’s body (or vice versa)? No problem, have a magical sex change, they’re free and relatively painless (though you might feel some discomfort and it’s recommended that you rest a bit before doing anything *ahem* strenuous with your new bits).

And yet, were I to run this idea by a mainstream publisher, what do you want to bet they’d say “Can you make Shemsu into a woman and Sangasu into a (cis) man?” or “We think this character would be more appealing if he were white.” or even “Can these two gods stop having sex with each other?”

Bright Moon God: NEVAH! *snuggles Dark Moon God* ❤

Now, if a trans* person said to me “Could you please not make X character trans*? It’s such a horrible portrayal it’s embarrassing!” what Fangs for the Fantasy terms a “Pass at Writing X people” (ie. when a portrayal of a marginalized group is so bad that members of that marginalized group would rather not be in the work at all than have to put up with such a stereotyped character) that’s different, this sort of feedback is good (although, yes, it is tough to see your beloved characters being raked over the coals). Let’s face it, at the end of the day, I’m not a guy, or trans*, or black, or a bunch of other things that the characters in this story are, so, in the absence of direct experience, I need to rely on other people to tell me about their experiences and attempt to avoid stereotypes that I’m blind to because of my privilege.

Anyways, I’m digressing a bit, my point is that I’m not talking about critique from people that I’m trying to portray in my stories, I’m talking about people in the publishing industry (typically members of a dominant culture ie. heterosexual cis white men) telling me, the author, to compromise my creative vision because it’s too “controversial” or related terms. It’s sad, but this shit happens all the time.

I don’t expect to ever make money off this story, but man, it sure is nice to have this space to play in.


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