i was talking to someone about my senior thesis novel a couple of days ago. they asked me whether i would publish it and i said “probably not any time soon” which is my way of saying “probably never”.
its not that i don’t think it would be any good or wouldn’t sell
its because i write to create the worlds i want to see. worlds where people of color have more depth and flexibility and struggles than are oftentimes allowed to flourish in a predominately white publishing market. i write to relax, to have something creative to work on. to remove myself from the tensions of doing social justice or theology related stufff
and honesty, my worst fear is doing a reading or reading fan mail where someone essentially asks me “why didn’t you write about white people?”
i have no energy for that. at least not right now.
what white people don’t understand is that authors of color have worked too hard to get their writing even noticed in a market where every tom, dick and harry submits their manuscript. and many stephanie myers, nicolas sparks, and e.l james get published above those with true talent and have spent years mastering and perfecting their craft.
and to face that kind of question is fundamentally a career ender.
answer truthfully, discuss and get a white person to critically understand how its not the responsibility of POC authors to write exclusively about white people. talk about the inherent white supremacy in white folks assuming every book has to be about them. especially when white authors are not obligated in the same way to include people of color in their stories in order to find a viable market.
and you may potentially loose everything you’ve worked hard for. because there are too many white people who read books and have narry an actively anti-racist bone in their body, let alone the desire to cultivate some. they’ll call you a reverse racist. which is damaging because not only is the publishing industry predominately white but they are your largest market as well. and when word spreads that the reason why you, author of color, didn’t focus your book on white people is “because you hate white people”, your book sales will plummet, publishers will be hesitant to pick you up in the future.
that’s a lot of work down the drain only for the possibility of being able to survive the ethnostress of being a rising author.
i don’t want writing to be ruined for me just yet
its the outlet that keeps me going and allows me into the land of day dreams and make believe
i’m not going to sit on my creations and wait for our generations to grow and to change and to one day overturn the white supremacist power structure
i’m going to hope people of color utilize this existing capitalist system in order to put their purchasing power back into the self actualization of our dreams.
and wait for the black version of randomhouse or harper collins to pop up
because many of us dream of that kind of status and settle for self published e-books or publications with miserably small companies with not nearly enough power to sustain the full time writer of color.
in my wildest dreams i want mainstream royalties, circulation, and book tours. i just don’t want the problems of being a person who believes in my right to tell the stories of queer black women exclusively and not the over told stories of white people.