There is a great temptation when watching a book be criticised online* for being offensive to stop writing altogether. Down the pen and take up knitting, perhaps. Or try olympic hurdling.
“What if I offend people? What will I do?” we whisper to ourselves in the midst of darkness and four cups of tea deep into melancholy.
The thing is, what I am learning is that it’s not a matter of if but when. And when you offend people with your words the best thing to do is to apologise and grow, letting your story grow too. I think cultural misrepresentation is felt keenly everywhere. And it is felt especially keenly in YA, MG and all manner of kid lit because of their potential to lead to a lifetime of sorrow for readers. We have a responsibility not to do that.
We have a responsibility to be vigilant.
With my current WIP revision I’m trying to be vigilant. I’m seeking out opinions and sensitivity readers to help me consider things particularly relevant to the words.
But I know that’s not the end of the road and doing this doesn’t give me a pass.
I know that even after all the readings and checking, it’s up to the world to determine whether the representation is okay.
I don’t pretend to know all the things I could about misrepresentation — I know my world view is tainted by my own experiences — but I hope with the help of the people around us I can learn
And I hope that when my words offend somebody I have the strength to apologise, check myself, and then adjust those words. A story belongs to its readers after all.
If you have opinions or thoughts on being Deaf, deaf or hard of hearing click here to fill out my google form! I’m mostly gathering opinions rn and I welcome them all but eventually I will also need readers because my WIP has a hard of hearing main character <3
*I’ve been mostly silent in the current book that has issues but just to be clear I think criticism is a good thing, GOOD.