I don’t want to write this post. I’ll be one-hundred percent honest with you. I’m afraid that it could singlehandedly ruin any chance of me ever becoming a successful author. The thought that, as soon as this post goes live, the internet will have record of my opinion on this matter terrifies me.
But fuck it.
I just watched a few videos on YouTube by two different personalities. I want to name names. More than ever, I want these people to know how stupid they are, one in particular. But I won’t. The video that spurred this is one from a rather new person in the AuthorTube community and it is titled, in part, Writing With Diversity.
Now, I feel like I have to mention that this particular person doesn’t seem to have any sense of originality whatsoever. They seem to have watched a few of their favorite AuthorTuber’s videos and said “Oh hey, I like her. I want to be just like her when I grow up and make my own videos”, then went and did just that. This person has copied the mannerisms of the other person in what seems like an effort to, I don’t know, be cool like them or something.
This particular video is the personification of that mentality. Here was their message on diversity in books, in a nutshell:
- If you don’t write with diversity, you’re an asshole.
- You MUST tell your reader what color someone is, otherwise they must be white, and you’re an asshole.
- If you don’t write interracial relationships, you’re an asshole.
- There are some sexualities that we don’t even know about. If you’re not writing about various sexualities, you’re an asshole.
- The fact that YOUR characters are straight is stupid. Asshole.
- If you don’t write about trans or non-binary characters, you’re writing isn’t realistic. Oh yeah, I forgot. Asshole.
This was seriously the person’s message. And here’s what I gathered from it.
This is the most important thing. What this person is asking writers to do, no demanding, is to conform to their ideal book. If I, as a writer, don’t do this, then I am doing something wrong. Fuck you, YouTube Person Who Must Not Be Named. Fuck you.
What makes this so much worse is that they are not the only person making these types of demands. So many popular BookTubers and AuthorTubers are doing this. And it is sad! Sad because they are willing to conform. Sad because they are perfectly fine with someone telling them how to write their story. Sad because they are okay with changing their vision to some cookie-cutter bullshit dream of this perfect world that, quite simply, does not exist.
And let’s be honest, sometimes you can tell the cookies are homemade when they don’t all look the same, right?
Writers write their visions. These could be visions of some utopian society where everything is perfect, they could be of a dystopia where nothing at all is perfect, they could be of a relationship they wish they could have but are too afraid to pursue it so they make up a story about it. Let me tell you something. When I dream, I don’t dream what anyone else wants me to dream. When I picture certain situations, I don’t picture them the way anybody else might picture that exact scenario. It’s not how our brains work!
Did you know that Hermione from Harry Potter was supposed to have been black? JK Rowling said she always saw her as black, but I bet you never would have guessed it. There never were, in the early days before the films at least, any inferences to her color. You could have read her as black and the story would not have told you any different.
Did you know Dumbledore was thought by the author to be gay? There were literally never any parts of the story, be it in the books or the films, that would have ever suggested that, unless of course you count his lack of a partner at all. But JK Rowling told us that in the years after she typed the last words to a Harry Potter novel.
What I am getting at here is that I shouldn’t have to point out to you a color or sexuality to begin with. Now, if I do choose to specify, and I should only do so because it moves the plot forward, then I should do so respectfully and tastefully. However, you have no reason to expect me to include these things just for the sake of including them. You shouldn’t want me to! If my vision doesn’t include a transexual, why the actual fuck would you want to see one in the novel? It makes no sense!
If my vision is of a boy riding a dragon through over fucking Castlevania and I want to tell you his ethnicity, I will. If it is pertinent. But would you be any more amazed by the fact that this person riding the dragon was Indian? Fuck no.
If my vision involves a man fighting ninjas in back alleys across the globe, do you have to know he’s bisexual? Or what if he identifies as non-binary or gender fluid? Does that intensify the appeal of his fighting prowess? No. No it doesn’t. He can kick some ninja ass, no matter who he’s banging when he gets home and if telling you about it doesn’t move the plot forward, then I’m not going to tell you.
I want you to know now that, just because I don’t tell you a character is bi or anything like that, doesn’t mean he or she isn’t. Believe me, I flesh my characters out and I know who they are. If them being bi doesn’t move the story along, I won’t tell you. Also, if the color of their skin is not important, I will not tell you. Instead, I will let you decide if they are black, white, brown, yellow, whatever.
And after all this, if I do write a book without any representation of a particular group of people, oh well. It’s my vision. Don’t buy my book. Naturally, I want to write a book that the world will love to read, but I refuse to conform. I refuse to alter my vision to suit any of these snowflake’s needs.
While I understand the need for people to consume stories with which they can relate, there is much more to being able to relate than just the color of a character’s skin or the people they choose to have relations with. Yes, our real world is not vanilla and it makes sense to have diversity, but not at the expense of changing a story to make it happen. If the story didn’t specify a certain diversity, simply dragging and dropping it into that story only seems disingenuous. Why would you want to read something like that?
Enough is enough. No more demands. No more templates for stories that don’t offend simply because they include the types of characters that meet specific requirements. No more.
If you read this all the way to the end, thank you so much. I love you all.