On Fear Over Writing & Reading Diverse Books

Posted January 24, 2017 by Stephanie in Discussion / 0 Comments

Yesterday, I read an amazing post written by Rachel @ A Perfection Called Books and it had to deal with people (teens for the most part) in the book community scared to share their opinions. Especially on Twitter and I totally understand what she was saying. I feel like in the past year or two, the YA book community as a whole has been vastly changing. And most of the time I think change is good, but in this case it’s been changing for the worse.

A few years ago I never used to see people getting attacked by their opinion over a book or author. Nowadays in the YA book community it seems to happen almost daily, maybe even every day. The whole reason why I started my blog was because of my love of books and I saw how amazing this community was and I wanted to be a part of it. I found it as an outlet to get my opinions over the books I read out there. And to talk about them with other people. And I love taking into consideration that not everyone will think the same as me and sometimes other people with their opinions will open my eyes to a different way of thinking or viewing that book. We never ostracized each other no matter how different the opinions.

Nowadays, I’m almost ashamed to be a part of this community. I think a lot of us have forgotten what this community is for. To me, this community should not be about being elite. I am not here to get ARCs, do I appreciate it when a publisher sends me one, absolutely. But I do not feel like I am entitled to have one. I am not here to tell someone that they shouldn’t like a certain book because it doesn’t have enough diversity within it or vice versa. I am not here to ostracize anyone, especially the teenagers and other readers I am trying to promote books to. I am not here to be in a constant, never-ending argument on Twitter.

What I am here for is to promote the books and authors I love the most. To help other people find their possible new favorite book. To talk about all the books and what I like and don’t like. Be it their cover, the writing, the characters, etc. And to have healthy conversations or sometimes debates (as long as they’re actual debates and not arguments or calling people out) about those books. What I am here for is to help my favorite authors be as successful as they possibly can be. To help the publishing houses be as successful as they can be. And most of all, I’m here because when I first started blogging, this community felt like a family. And now, it feels like I’m in the movie Mean Girls and back in high school. This community has become so full of cliques and flat out “mean girls” that I am so ashamed to be a part of it. And none of us should feel that way. We all have our opinions are entitled to them but we shouldn’t hate on each other because of them.

Now, let’s get down to my pain point today. When reading Rachel’s post yesterday, I saw a lot of people say that they’re afraid to write the stories of their hearts and souls because of this hatred within the community and how these books and authors get nitpicked and fed to the wolves. No one should be afraid to write what their heart is telling them to write. If they have an amazing story to tell whether or not it’s diverse or not, they should feel encouraged to write their story.

Some writers are feeling that they need to make sure that their story has something diverse in it while others are scared to put diversity in their stories because of all the nitpicking that happens and some writers/authors are called racists for it. And that’s not right. I’ve always been told to write what my heart tells me to write. I don’t feel like I should have to make sure it fits into this perfect little mold just so it doesn’t offend people.

And this community is making young writers, who just want to share stories and be a part of the community that I remember we used to be, afraid to write their stories. That is not okay. As most of you know by now, I’m bringing a little girl into the world this spring and it breaks my heart that she will be entering a world full of hatred and bullying. That a community that I love and went to when the world tuned me out is turning into that world of hatred and bullying. If she’s anything like me with books and writing, I don’t want her to enter a community who is going to ostracize her on whether or not she’s reading the right books or writing the right things inside the stories she wants to create. And that doesn’t just go for my future daughter, but to all the young writers out there. I’m here to say do not be afraid. Write what you love. Write what feels right to you. And ignore the assholes within this community who ultimately is bringing this community down. Do not ignore constructive criticism, because that can only help your writing but ignore the ones who feel they are so elite that it is their way or the highway.

I have to say that even I have become scared to even read a diverse book because if I end up not liking it, will I be ostracized too? What if I review the book and it doesn’t agree with everyone? This is not okay, and I am so proud of Rachel for standing up and I am hoping others will too. Let’s make a stand and unify our community before we’ve divided it too far to even be recognizable or even likable. I have hope that we can overcome this. Because I truly do love this community and the friends I’ve made because of it. And I don’t want to see this community fall off the deep end. Because this community is important for so many people and so many teenagers.


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