I’m paraphrasing but reading recent posts on harassment and the scores of comments beneath them recently there was one that really struck me. It spoke about giving up writing because of all that has happened to them.
Giving up because their joy had been tainted.
It never occurred to me when writing about our ghosts of yesterday, and fallen writer comrades I’ve seen fade along the way during my writing journey, that a number of them may have been blocked by something similar. Maybe they stopped because of harassment. It should have occurred to me. It never did. I’m ashamed that it never did.
One of the main tenants of my experiences with harassment has always been the assumption that, for the main part, I am alone. I knew there were others out there with the a story to tell on paper but they felt unreal and out of reach. Like a tissue paper fort or a map made of smoke rings. Unreal. Deep down I think I also thought that none were as weak as I was when it mattered. None were as disappointing to me as myself.
This is a ridiculous notion
I’ve travelled three years
and four thousand miles to shake off.
In my darker days, sometimes this thought returns but I am lucky in that after so much time the thought is more of a whisper than a shriek.
If your experience is still the mangled cry of a fox at night, or chalk scraping down the side of a board, know that you are truly not alone now. I believe you. We believe you. I know how it feels to find that first lifeboat of belief on a sea of gaslighting and darkness. You need to know that you have a thousand lifeboats now, and we’re working on lashing them altogether.
Today, like most days, I feel like it’s not the time to tell my own (not #kidlit related) harassment story but I mostly just wanted to say there are people committed to changing the darkness that has long surrounded these experiences. We can do something about this.
There’s nothing worse than drowning in that darkest sea of despair and watching lifeboats in the distance all talk about how this kind of thing is awful and we should do something all the time drifting further and further away from your cries.
This has to stop today. Together we can do something real. At least a thousand people are ready to do that together.
Some reading for those who want to look into the matter (and I hope you do):
- Harassment in children’s publishing
- Anne Ursu’s article on sexual harassment within the kidlit industry
I am here for anyone who needs to talk — even if you aren’t ready to do anything with what you need to talk about yet.