No one else can tell the stories I have to tell

“Don’t forget, no one else sees the world the way you do, so no one else can tell the stories that you have to tell.” — Charles de Lint
“Don’t forget, no one else sees the world the way you do, so no one else can tell the stories that you have to tell.” — Charles de Lint
There are lots of stories boiling over in the real world that I have strong urges to comment on. Some of them are about Facebook’s advertising platform violating the Fair Housing Act, some are about the FBI director violating the Hatch Act, some are about inappropriate use of force against protestors who happen to be racial minorites while white armed criminals are acquitted, and so on. All of those stories are important, all of them involve real people and real harm, and all of them are worthy of some consideration.

But part of the reason I filled out my ballot as soon as it arrived (and let me just say again that I am so happy my state went all mail-in some years ago) was in hopes that I would stop obsessing quite so much at all the outrageous things going on in the world. I have a couple of important writing goals to finish before NaNoWriMo starts. I have hefty writing goals for NaNoWriMo itself. This is the third year in a row that one of my goals for the year is to spend less time and energy being outraged and more time writing and enjoying life.

This horrible year just keeps getting me wound up so much that some days I can’t seem to get anything done. And I’m not the only one (don’t just read Scalzi’s post, take a few moments to read the moderated comments to that post).

It’s not just about deadlines. I have stories to tell, stories I think need to be told…

A lot of folks have been talking about inclusion, representation and/or diversity in books, particularly young adult and middle-grade fiction. I’m not specifically writing that sort of fiction most of the time (I have one children’s book that I had fun writing, but not sure how or if I can sell it). But I certainly understand what it was like reading books as a kid and never seeing myself in the pages. Oh, yeah, there were plenty of little white boys, and boys who were nerds and misfits of what sort or another.

But the characters I often wound up identifying with were girls. And sometimes (I realize now) it was precisely because they were the love interest of a male character in the story, movie, or TV show who I had a crush on.

Which isn’t to say that my writing has a political agenda. I’ve made the mistake of writing a story or two like that, I deeply regretted it. But I do follow the same advice I often give people: if the stories you want to read aren’t available, write them yourself!

So yes, the novel I’m trying to finish the rewrites on is a tale of a raccoon thief saddled with a cursed amulet from the Tomb of the Forgotten Gods who goes to a shapeshifting fortuneteller for guidance as to what to do next while a kitsune trapped in an otter’s body finds himself drafted as the spiritual advisor of a group of ninja cat-girls who are trying to protect the raccoon thief from a dragon-riding imperial knight… but it is also a story populated by characters who fall along a wide spectrum of sexual orientations, as well as characters who are misfits and nerds, characters who are extreme extroverts and others who are quite the opposite. There’s a priestess who sees freakishly accurate visions of the future, a necromancer-type overlord who loves musical theatre, a constable who is taking night classes to become a barrister, an elder of the Brotherhood of Chaos whose pranks sometimes border on treason…

My imaginary world is more than a little weird.

The thing is, no matter how weird it is, there are almost certainly other people out there who would enjoy spending some time in it. And there are readers who will identify with my characters. Readers who may not know that this is a kind of story they don’t just want to read, but need to read.

So I need to quit vacillating on how to fix some things and get this thing done!

Because several sequels are at least partially written and they’re all building up in my head threatening to explode if I don’t get them told.

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