Quotes for 2020 #46 & 47

An on going series of a quote a day from those most worthy of individuals, writers…  Disclaimer: Not all quotes are meant to inspire… Not all comments I make upon them are entirely honest either, occasionally Hannibal writes them…

In a slight departure from the norm I am doing two quotes today (partly because I missed one yesterday, partly because of an extremely worthy question asked by a friend on twitter made me remember the second one, not because of the question that was asked but because of the opinions I possess that informed my answer to that question.)

Further to this, for much the same reason, today quote’s comes from one of my favourite modern fantasy writers. I could have said my favourite female African american writer, because people often believe its important to mention she is female and black. However, the reason N.K. Jemisin is one of my favourite modern fantasy writers is not because she is a woman, or because she is a member of an ethnic minority, its because she is a bloody fabulous writer. In much the same way as my love of Anne Mccaffrey’s novels has nothing to do with the writer being an Irish American and a woman, or my love of David Gemmell heroic fiction is informed by the way he used to urinate. It is the quality of the writing, the tale telling, the world and the characters who inhabit that world that are what is important, that matter, and to think otherwise well…


Which is not the quote which informed my answer to my friends question. Its just one of my favourite N K Jemisin quotes… And tends to make this fool smile.

It was however the quote below, also from N K, which I remembered and partly informed my answer to what remained a good question to ask. That my friend asked the question in the first place says nothing but good things about him. What was the question? Simply if it was okay for him as a straight white male to write a novel in which the main character was a black woman and would his doing so risk offending someone? As I say its a very good question to ask yourself as a writer. Its a very good question to think about. But it is also one that leans heavily on political correctness. So to quote N K…


There is nothing wrong with trying to be politically correct in of itself. But my opinion is that if your being politically correct for the sake of being politically correct then your missing the point entirely. You should consider other peoples opinions, you should consider their feelings, and you should do so because, quite simply, that’s the fucking human things to do!

But if someones opinion is that a privileged white male can not and should not write a story about someone other who is not a privileged white male, then their opinion is not worth listening to, its just plain wrong headed. As I know the writer who asked the question, (which remains a good question for a writer to ask themselves) is a damn fine writer, a damn fine person, and a person I consider myself privileged to call a friend, I can say this, he will write a damn fine story, with a strong lead character with flaws and strengths, well rounded, interesting and undoubtedly more than a little inspiring. Because he would never write anything that was hacked together rubbish.

I am damn sure that people of every gender, every race, creed and colour will enjoy whatever tale he crafts. Maybe some of them will be damn pleased that the heroine is not an upper middle class white woman, because they aren’t, or maybe they are, and still are damn pleased. As I say, I love N K Jemisin’s novels because they are bloody good books, with great characters, set in strange intriguingly different settings and worlds to the normal fantasy fare. But I dare say if she chose to write a novel who’s hero was a sis white male in a box standard foe-middle-ages European setting I would also read it, and not for one moment find myself wondering if it was okay for her to write it as a black woman…

Anyway, this is a bit of a rant I know, and it is just my opinion, yours might differ… But you know what? If you think any writer should only write that which they personally experience due to their gender and skin colour, then your opinion is not one I give much of a damn about, because I believe you are fundamentally wrong.

That said, every writer should ask themselves if in writing something they might offend someone… They should just then write it anyway, because someone will always be offended, but just because they are offended doesn’t mean they are right. It just means they are offended. The job of the writer is to write the best story they can, to write good believable ‘real’ characters, that people what to read. If they do that and someone is offended that the characters are not the same skin colour and gender as the writer, then I despair of them.

Of course as the main female character in my next novel isn’t white either, I should probably ask myself the same question my friend ask himself. Which I did when I started writing Maybe several years ago now. I suspect you can guess what conclusion I reached when I did…

Oddly enough I was reading a N K Jemisin novel at the time, as I recall.


This entry was posted in 2020 quotes, amreading, amwriting, books, fantasy, humanrights, indie writers, indiewriter, opinion, politics, quotes, rant, reads, writes, writing and tagged , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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