10 Things A Black Woman Writer Must Do:
1) Do not be a black woman writer.
2) If you come from an island in the Caribbean, that’s a mistake. The islands are not a proper place. People from places like the islands can’t write about being alienated, because how can you feel alienated in a place where people like to wear bikinis? Be a writer from England. Do not mention you are black.
3) You mustn’t write long sentences.
4) You mustn’t write about yourself.
5) Do not be abstract.
6) Do not write about race. Everyone will say you only write about race.
7) Write about race. If you don’t, they will point out that you haven’t written about race.
8) Do not be a black woman writer.
9) Do not be a black woman.
10) Do not be black."
I’ve always wanted to write epic books. My favorite books as a kid were all epics. Watership Down, Lord of the Rings, the Lensmen series. In the DR all my dreams were about a future in the US but in the US all my dreams were about a future … elsewhere. And I’ve definitely been wanting to write science fiction/fantasy, to write genre, to use some of those models to strike out in (for me at least) new directions.
Why this continued commitment to genres? So much of our experience as Caribbean Diasporic peoples, so much of it, exists in silence. How can we talk about our experiences in any way if both our own local cultural and the larger global culture doesn’t want to talk about them and actively resists our attempt to create language around them? Well, my strategy was to seek my models at the narrative margins. When I was growing up those were the narratives that most resonated with me and not simply because of the “sense of wonder” or because of the adolescent wish fulfillment that many genre books truck in. It was because these were the narratives that spoke directly to what I had experienced, both personally and historically. The X-Men made a lot of sense to me, because that’s what it really felt like to grow up bookish and smart in a poor urban community in Central New Jersey. Time-travel made sense to me because how else do I explain how I got from Villa Juana, from latrines and no lights, to Parlin, NJ, to MTV and a car in every parking space? Not just describe it but explain the missing emotional cognitive disjunction? I mean, let’s be real. Without shit like race and racism, without our lived experience as people of color, the metaphor that drives, say, the X-Men would not exist! Mutants are a metaphor (among other things) for race, and that’s one of the reasons that mutants are so popular in the Marvel Universe and in the Real. I have no problem re-looting the metaphor of the X-Men because I know it’s my silenced experience, my erased condition that’s the secret fuel that powers this particular fucking fantasy. So if I’m powering the ship, at a lower frequency, I’m going to have a say in how it’s used and in what ports of call it stops.
For another example, we have as a community been the victim of a long-term breeding project—I mean, that was one component of slavery: we were systematically bred for hundreds of years—but in mainstream literary fiction nobody’s really talking about breeding experiments. If you’re looking for language that will help you approach our nigh-unbearable historical experiences you can reach for narratives of the impossible: sci-fi, horror, fantasy, which might not really want to talk about people of color at all but that takes what we’ve experienced (without knowing it) very seriously indeed. Shit, they’ve been breeding people in sci-fi since its inception (The Island of Doctor Moreau) and the metaphors that the genres have established (mostly off the back of our experiences as people of color: the eternal other) can be reclaimed and subverted and expanded in useful ways that help clarify and immediate-ize our own histories, if only for ourselves. To quote Glissant again: this time that was never ours, we must now possess. Because it certainly has no problem possessing us any time it wants."
Molly McArdle: There are hundreds of stories that make up One Thousand and One Nights but you were able to narrow it down to 19 in this collection. What made you choose the stories you did?
Hanan al-Shaykh: At the beginning, I felt as if there were so many jewels, that every story was a jewel. I couldn’t choose! Every time I read one story, I’d say, “That’s it! That’s it!” I’d read another and would be like, “That’s it!”…I chose stories that were dark, complex, violent, and explicit. They talk about the wiles of women and what made them crafty, their misfortune and who bestowed that misfortune on them. I understood that the behavior of these manipulative women was the second nature of the weak, [that] they were oppressed. I chose stories that go inside that oppressiveness. The theme [of the collection] is the oppressed and the oppressor.
zora is my favorite ever and this quote is my favorite ever
Joseph Heller’s chart outline for Catch-22. Check out the full gallery of Famous Authors’ Handwritten Outlines.
GRRM himself says about Catelyn that there’s a tendency in fantasy stories to want to get the mom off-stage, to sideline her for the hero’s story, and that’s what he was trying to reset, that’s the story he thought was missing that Catelyn is meant to fill
B&W FUCKING SIDELINE HER