Day late on the post. Not going to repeat that.
I’m editing a project. It’s something I’ve brought up before, but I’m going to play it a little closer to the chest until we can fully announce it. It’s personal and small in scale. It’s eclectic and won’t fit in “quite right”.
I think that sort of makes it perfect.
That said, it’s strange to put my editing hat back on when I’m working with solicited stories. There are people who are just damn good at this writing thing and sometimes you have to shove the reader back into its bucket to avoid gushing over a piece.
That isn’t the point of this blog post, though.
I wanted to talk about the idea of competition – specifically competition among POC/Marginalized voices. It’s a trap that gets set for many of us: which of these underheard people deserve to be heard the most (since we can’t have more than one at the table, right)?
Me? I love competition. But I don’t love the idea of making it something where I need to crush anyone underfoot to get ahead. I understand what it is to swim with sharks, I’ve been a door-to-door salesman (that shit is insane). The problem with that cutthroat attitude is that it stifles underrepresented voices as a whole and that’s a HUGE fucking problem.
Here’s a thing to understand (entirely built on my own cynicism): most folks who claim to be “woke” think the claim is all they need. Social media’s made awareness and being an ally as simple as clicking the retweet icon or sharing a random article with an emoji to show your support. That low hanging fruit is a plenty and fucking delicious.
It’s also tempting. As a marginalized writer I can leverage a lot of that desire to build myself a tight little platform at the expense of other artists like me. It happens all the time; satisfaction through tokenism, and it damages us. Let’s be real, it’s what let dudes like Junot Diaz get away with their shit as long as they got away with it. Build that platform on the backs of other Latinx writers and use the fear of looking racist against your initial boosters.
I know – very shocking – con artists come in more than one color.
And the damage that shit causes. It loses allies, it allows pieces of shit to further their agendas, and it takes us ALL back three steps. All that neck stepping ultimately hurts those with broken necks twice as much as the goddamn neck stepper and it drives me fucking crazy.
Let me breathe before I spit fire.
So back to that stuff about editing above.
I have the privilege to be reading some beautiful work from Latinx authors right now and I’m amazed, intimidated, and already cried once. I read this stuff and I think my own work is hot trash compared to them – they’re amazing – and while my competitive nature drives me to want to outdo them, I’ll stop at nothing to let you know their names.
We need to be there for each other. We need to boost each other and sometimes that means we let ourselves feel a little jealous or overwhelmed. It’s a lesson I’m learning (I ain’t gonna pretend I’m some guru, fuck that) and I’m finding it to be potentially one of the most important lessons of my writing life.
I can’t wait to share these stories with readers.