Flash! Future: Writing the Other

WELCOME BACK, Flash! Futureites! We’re halfway through NaNoWriMo—how’re participants faring??—and a dragon-scale’s thickness shy of 75% complete with this grand Fire&Ice adventure! In our last Flash! Future post (find it here) we got to meet one of Canada’s biggest #OwnVoices Indigenous authors Cherie Dimaline. One of the things that stood out to me most about Dimaline’s writing philosophy is her decision to write strictly from a Métis community experience. When asked in an interview with Publishing Perspectives about how “diversity [is] perceived and understood within Indigenous cultures” (there are over 600 First Nations communities in Canada alone), Dimaline had this to say:

It’s imperative when we tell stories in an Indigenous context that we’re in connection to the nation(s) that we’re speaking of—or speaking on behalf of—even in fiction.

She adds:

Taking a pan-Indigenous approach doesn’t work. Taking a colonial viewpoint doesn’t work. This changes the narrative of specific nations and is highly problematic. It leads to misunderstanding, misrepresentation, and stereotypes.

Her commitment to respectfully grow her characters out of the ground she knows—her Métis roots—reminds me of two episodes from the podcast Writing Excuses that have been profoundly helpful for me in thinking about what stories are mine to tell, and how I can honor the voices of others around me. Click the episode titles below to listen. Also, we’d love to hear your thoughts! When it comes to writing diverse stories, are there resources you’ve found to be invaluable? Advice you’ve been given that guides you? Do share in the comments!

1st Writing Excuses Episode

14.21: Writing The Other — Yes, You Can!

Episode description: “The single most asked question we get on the subject of writing cultures other than our own is some variation on “can we even DO this anymore?” Short answer: YES, YOU CAN. Our objective with this episode is to encourage you to put in the work, do the research, and write outside of your culture or personal experience. At risk of sounding cliché, it’s not easy, but it’s worth it.”

2nd Writing Excuses Episode

15.40: Researching for Writing the Other

Episode description: Writing stories which feature people who are not like you is, in a word, difficult. In another word? Fraught. But good writers do difficult things, and in this episode Nisi Shawl and Silvia Moreno-Garcia join us to discuss how research can make “writing the other” less difficult, and perhaps even less fraught.”

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