[personal profile] cm
Yesterday was a better writing day than I was expecting. I'd intended to spend it mostly on planning. In the end I solved two of the problems I was hoping to solve, and also wrote 1500 words. Which isn't very much, until you consider that I'd stalled on that bit for a year, and I really enjoyed writing them, and they didn't suck.

Today I wrote much less, because I was busy with other things (tattoo retouch; visiting National Maritime Museum; rehearsal), but I finished the chapter I was working on.

I've been thinking about Racefail and Nano. Avoiding Racefail is basically a matter of Not Being a Racist Arsehat, but given we live in a racist society, Not Being a Racist Arsehat is harder than it ought to be.[1] And I think there's a dilemma there, because Nano is about writing quickly and giving yourself permission to get things wrong. But I'm not convinced that white people have the right to give ourselves permission to get race wrong - either to exclude BME people from our writing because that's easier, or to resort to stereotypes, because that's the first thing that comes into our head.[2]

I don't think there's an easy solution to that. Maybe it doesn't matter too much if the first draft you don't show anyone is racist - but I'm uncomfortable with the idea that 'not being racist' is something you can add on at editing stage.

One of my main characters, one of my secondary characters and a few minor characters are minority ethnic. It became clear to me when doing a bit of planning using the snowflake method that the secondary character with an Indian mother and English father, who is called Sush, had almost nothing in the way of goals or motivations: his only role was to help out the main characters. Which as many of you will know, is a common racist trope.

[If I can get all defensive for a second, I think this was mostly because he's the only biggish character who doesn't appear in my first draft, so I've had much less time to think about him.]

So I've been pondering how to develop his character further. And without going into spoilerish details, I turned one of the things about him that didn't make much sense into an exciting subplot involving pirates, which gives him goals and motivations and an epiphany at the end, and generally makes him feel more like a rounded human being.

[1] Right now, I'm not interested in debating with people who want to reserve the adjective 'racist' for the Nick Griffins of this world. I hold the basic assumptions about racism in this post, and I currently writing for a readership which shares them.

[2] I hope it's obvious to all and sundry that I'm using "right" in a loose sense here. Obviously we have the legal right to write anything we want to, and that's how it should be. But I don't think of myself as having a 'right' to exercise my white privilege, though I know that I inevitably will.


Catriona Mackay

November 2012

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