Saturday, September 14, 2013

RIP Ann Crispin; Toni Morrison Responds to Book Ban

RIP Ann Crispin

The blogging world lost a long time member this summer, Ann C. Crispin, who founded Writer Beware with Victoria Strauss.

Ann Crispin, best-selling author, Writer Beware co-founder, fearless fighter in the scam wars, beloved wife and mother, my friend, died this morning after a two-year struggle with cancer.

You can read more here. The post was written by Strauss, Crispin's co-founder.

Writer Beware was a blog I used to follow more regularly, but as things in the publishing world started to change I stopped following it as regularly because it wasn't something that was directly related to anything I've been doing for the past five years. Though I haven't always agreed with everything on WB, I have learned a great deal through them and Crispin was another consummate blogger who was passionate about what she did.

If you are a new writer and you haven't read WB, I would advise checking it out. As I said, I do think that with many of the changes happening in publishing some things should be rivised (like warning authors about literary agents and other authors who are working together as e-publishers and not disclosing this up front...and yet still claiming they are self-publishing so everyone thinks is just another simple self-publishing venture), but there's still a great deal of good information that might help keep you from getting screwed over by shifty editors and e-publishing services, among other pitfalls that prey upon good unsuspecting people, that seem to be popping up all the time. The e-mails I get from scammers daily would turn this blog into something completely different if I started posting about them daily.

In fact, Tony and I are planning to start an e-publishing service in the future, and one of the things I pay close attention to are posts on WB about other e-publishing services. Our goal is to create something affordable, and that has quality books, where the author always maintains control, and his/her rights at all times. The last thing I would want to see happen would be to get slammed on WB as an e-publishing service. So far, I haven't seen anything at WB with regard to e-publishing services that I haven't agreed with. Most of what they've posted makes sense...and I come to this thinking as a writer, not a publisher or agent. I know what I wouldn't want happen to me.

In any event, Writer Beware will continue on.

Toni Morrison Responds to Book Ban

One of the things that sometimes frustrates me about writing gay fiction of any kind, even gay romance, is when people who are NOT gay challenge what I know to be true and to be fact as a gay man. When I write gay fiction I don't try to turn it into a heteronormative frolic through suburbia like you see on TV shows like The New Normal. I do use heteronormativity sometimes in books because I think there are many gay people who are leaning toward that as we gain more equality. Just look at the marriage proposal video that went viral this weekend and you'll see what I mean. And look at all the gay couples who want children and the typical heteronormative family. But what I never do is fake gay culture, and some things that are rooted deeply in gay culture, and I've been slammed for doing that more than once by non-gay people who *think* they know all about gay people.

And this is exactly how Toni Morrison seems to be responding to comments made about her book, The Bluest Eye. Some have even gone so far as to call the book "porn," which I've posted about on this blog several times. I have read the book more than once and it's not only literary masterpiece, but also an account of African American culture we don't see often. For me, as a gay white male, to even begin to criticize anything about Morrison's personal knowledge when it comes to the African American experience would be ludicrous. It wouldn't even occur to me.

“The book was published in the early seventies and it has been banned so much and so many places. That I am told I am number 14 on the list of 100 banned books,” Morrison told Columbus TV station NBC4.

“I resent it. I mean if it’s Texas or North Carolina as it has been in all sorts of states. But to be a girl from Ohio, writing about Ohio having been born in Lorain, Ohio. And actually relating as an Ohio person, to have the Ohio, what- Board of Education? Is ironic at the least,” Morrison, a Lorain native, told the TV station.

I understand exactly how she feels, from a slightly different POV. Though I would never even suggest that my books be in schools, or read by minors, I feel the same kind of resentment each time I see someone question something I've written about gay men, as a gay man. I'm not the only gay man who feels this way either. It's something we discuss often in private, yet there's nothing to do about it because there are some who don't really want to hear gay voices as they really are. They support gays, they support equal rights, and they support the concept of all LGBT people. But when it comes down to *listening* to gay people they go dead blank and think what they want.

I'm glad Morrison responded to all this, and I'm glad she's not just sitting back and taking it. You can read the entire article in full, here.

She also deserves the last word on this topic, as an African American woman, and a writer.












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