Writing, Worrying, and Working

I wish I had something scintillating to share, but I don’t.  I’ve been writing this novella and this novel forever it seems.  I am still keeping their tones distinct, which is the best thing I can say about the process.

Based on advice from author and fellow GRW member Stephanie Bond, I took my synopsis, broke it down into chapters, and translated those chapters into an outline.  Each chapter gets a title that describes what happens in that chapter, and a sentence that explains how events drive the plot forward.  OH MY GOD, writers, you should totally do this, even if you are a pantser! It’s helped to show where I can drop in world-building, raise the stakes, and avoid the sagging middle (which worries all writers constantly because you spend so much time polishing those first three that you can lose steam.  Like one of my fellow GRW authors said, “You get to chapter 4 and go, ‘now what?'”)

Thursday sees me in New York for the PASIC conference, which occurs every other year in NYC.  I really enjoy being a member of this chapter.  I have to say, if I continue being a member of RWA, this chapter will be why.  I also plan to meet my agent for a face to face career plotting thing

I’m not even going to get into whole Race Fail 09 debacle that’s been occuring in the SF/F community since early January.  (Though it makes the romance racism discussions seem like pre-school spats in comparison.) Google it or check out this wiki if you want to know more or just want to find a timeline , but it will probably just piss you off or make you despair.  Since neither is an emotion I want to feel as I’m finishing my first urban fantasy novel with a black female as the main character, I’m not going to go there.

What it does tell me is there is still plenty of work to do and be done, that there needs to be dialgoue and effort.  You can’t just throw your hands up and say it won’t work, I give up.  I don’t know if I can contribute anything to the discussions, and there are probably people who think I shouldn’t.  Just as people thought I shouldn’t have gotten into the discussions of race in romance.  But when I’m at a writers convention, walking down a hotel hallway in business attire with my conference bag on my shoulder and a white woman steps out of her room to ask me for more towels, I tell her I don’t work for the hotel and she doesn’t apologize, I know we still have far to go.

7 Replies to “Writing, Worrying, and Working”

  1. Laura Vivanco

    I’m at a writers convention, walking down a hotel hallway in business attire with my conference bag on my shoulder and a white woman steps out of her room to ask me for more towels, I tell her I don’t work for the hotel and she doesn’t apologize, I know we still have far to go.

    The lack of apology makes it particularly repellent, and blatant.

  2. admin

    That was the part that got me. I can forgive the thinking I managed housekeeping or something like that. But the lack of apology steamed for the rest of the day, and obviously still lingers a couple of years later.

  3. Laura Vivanco

    By coincidence I was reading an essay by bell hooks today in which she recounts a very similar episode and explores the subtexts:

    When I am shopping in Barneys, a fancy department store in my neighborhood, and a well-dressed white woman turns to me – even though I am wearing a coat, carrying my handbag, and chatting with a similarly dressed friend – seeking assistance from the first available shopgirl and demands my help, I wonder who and what she sees looking at me. From her perspective she thinks she knows who has class power, who has the right to shop here; the look of the poor and working class is always different from her own. Even if we had been dressed alike she would have looked past attire to see the face of the underprivileged she has been taught to recognize. (4)

    hooks, bell. where we stand: class matters. London: Routledge, 2000.

  4. Roslyn

    I was wondering if you’d seen the whole Race/Fail madness. I wasn’t going to bring it up if you hadn’t.

    I’ve gotten the towels request before, but what annoys me nearly as badly is random people in stores just assuming that I work there or that I’m there to help them. Anytime I’m in a ‘big box’ store you can almost guarantee there will be a request to help them get something off a shelf, or assist them in some manner. Never mind that workers in Wal Mart and Target wear specific clothing that typically looks nothing like what I wear. There’s a mindset that if you’re black you must be there to serve.

  5. Seressia

    Which is why the claims that racism doesn’t exist dumbfound me. I grew up feast or famine (government cheese and syrup sandwiches, anyone) but I’m doing all right for myself now.

    I am a professional with professional certifications who works in a corporate office and attends business conferences related to my field. And yet at a romance convention I get asked for extra towels, I go into stores and salesclerks think I can’t afford the outfit I ask to try on (“That’s not on sale.”)

    It’s like people only see you from the neck up and even then don’t see you, just your pigment, and put you in a box that makes them most comfortable. So yeah, I’ll always be sensitive to the portrayal of POC in books, especially those set in America and featuring American blacks.


  6. Roslyn

    Oh, btw I’ve been doing that Chapter Outline thing on my last couple of books and it’s very effective. Of course, mine is all over the place on sticky notes and various legal pads, but it does work.

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