Wednesday, January 6, 2021

Don't Care. Write Me a Good Story.

A blog I used to follow by a prolific reader who shall remain nameless posted their yearly reading wrap-up for 2020 and one of the first things they decided to point out was how many books they'd read by 'persons of color'.  

Umm, yeah.

I have no clue what the skin color is of the author I'm reading.  And I don't care.  Give me a good read and you could be purple with green spots.  You could have antennae sticking out the top of your head.  You could have three eyes and an arm in the middle of your forehead.  Wouldn't care.  

Shouldn't care.

I recently posted my 2020 reading wrap-up.  If I were tasked to list the various check-box attributes of the authors listed there, I'd be at a loss.  Because I just don't care enough to find out.

Black, brown, white, cream, olive, yellow, pink, peach, burnt umber?  Don't care.  Write me a good story.

Are you an innie or an outie?  XX or YY?  Want to be something else?  Don't care.  Write me a good story.

Straight or one of the alphabet soup categories?  Don't care.  Write me a good story.

Wear men's clothes or women's clothes or no clothes?  Don't care.  Write me a good story. 

Old or young?  Don't care.  Write me a good story.

Is that your real name or are you a pseudonym?  Don't care.  Write me a good story.

Christian, Jewish, Atheist, Agnostic, worship a fern named Ferdinand?  Don't care.  Write me a good story.

US or other country?  Don't care.  Write me a good story. (With the caveat that the writing has to be in English, because I don't know any other language.)

I'm a chick who likes dudes - and I've been married to the same one for 16 years.  My skin is a pale peachy-pink with slight tan overtones depending on how much sun I get.  I'm 50 years old.  None of those things should matter a whit as long as I'm writing a good story.  And if those things do matter when it comes to choosing whether to read or not read my books, then shame on you.  

If the story is good, you shouldn't notice the writer behind it.  The writer should fade away in the telling of the story.  It's what good storytellers do.  Good storytellers don't jump in front of the story shrieking 'look at me, look at me'.  Be the man behind the curtain and hope no one pays attention to you.

If I'm reading a story and the author is getting in the way of it by shouting about all the things they are and all the checkboxes they fit, I DNF the book.  I might've read your books and enjoyed them, but then you start shrieking about your otherness, at which point I stop reading your books - not because I care what you are or what you believe you are, but because suddenly YOU have become more important than your stories and when I try to read your work, all I can think about is you.  I can think of at least three authors I once loved who've done this to me and I hate them for it.  Don't be that author.  I beg you.

So, yeah, I stopped following that blog.  Kind of makes me sad.  But now I would question every book the person reviewed and wonder whether she wrote them a good review because they checked a special box or if the book was actually good.  I don't have that kind of time and I don't want to waste any more mental real estate on trying to figure it out.  

Write me a good story.  I don't care about anything else.

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