If you read indie or alt lit you know there’s a brouhaha about a piece published by a young woman at Muumuu House.
I’ve read a bunch of the articles, the criticisms, the interview.
I also read her piece three times.
Every time there is an alt lit/indie lit world dust up of this sort I see more and more reasons that I will probably never be the indie darling I dream about.
- I don’t write Helpless White Girl (see also Manic Pixie Dreamgirl) fiction.
- I don’t write Fucked up White Dude Fiction.
- I am neither a Helpless White Girl or a Fucked up White Dude.
Now when I use these terms I’m not disparaging either type of writing. If you are/write/like them I don’t care.
What the problem for me is that when I see these things everywhere, when these things are the things that are praised and held up as being all the precious things I feel unwelcome.
I am not famous, I don’t have an agent. I have to do all the by myself.
I have to think about when I am reading a publication and the only narrative I see given what I understand about the process of submission and seeing editors tastes, why would I ever submit?
Yes the worst thing that can happen is rejection but I don’t make a habit of submitting my work to any publication that does not seem like it would be appropriate.
In this kind of climate, I’m often left feeling pretty bereft.
I keep writing as they say to do.
I do want to be read.
Being that I am not famous, I am not an Indie/Alt Darling what am I supposed to do?
I don’t know.
This isn’t really about personal tastes or aesthetics even. It’s more about the level of deep -okay fuck I might as well be straight with all ten of you who read this- it’s hurt.
It hurts that I know, regardless of any lofty statements about diversity and inclusivity, that it’s another part of writing life I will likely never understand from an inside point of view. Not that I want to be an Indie/Alt Darling. I don’t need to be the One Brave Negro who busts the Helpless White Girl trope.
I think on some level I just need a break.
I need a respite from so much of my life being overwhelmed by the Whiteness of everything.
Sometimes I want to feel freer to write more characters of color who are not the archetypes of Black folks.
I want to be able to write characters of color who have pain and live without it having to be Toni Morrison level pain porn.
I don’t want to ever have another editor ask me if I’m influenced by Maya Angelou. It’s not because I don’t love her because I do. I am just not her.
I don’t ever want to have something I write that is smart or riddled with my own dead pan style sarcasm to be lumped into the Sassy Black Woman ghetto.
I don’t ever -ever- again want someone to reject me because they don’t publish “Urban Fiction” because I write a story that is about Black people.
I wish I was being hyperbolic here.
I don’t work at a famous beloved magazine. If you asked a friend who is into short fiction they don’t know who I am, although they might if they read the Duotrope news letter on a good week for me and my name is in it. I am not in any famous writing programs. I am still plugging away in the ether and that’s all good.
It’s all good but it’s also really fucking hard sometimes.
I’m trying to do something about these problems I have. I have been widening my reading list of lit mags. When I find that I am whitewashing a character or “toning” something race related down in a story I stop.
I remind myself that not everyone will love every word I write. Not every word that comes out of my head is going to be golden and it’s okay.
Sometimes I even submit when I fully believe that I do not belong in a magazine.
So there you have it.
Now I have some announcements to make but not today. I really need to finish a couple of newer pieces and decide whether or not to submit a poem I wrote the other night and am kind of in love with.