rainbowrowell:

faitherinhicks:

greg-pak:

Gene Yang is one of my heroes. Read this, y’all.
weneeddiversebooks:

Read This: Gene Luen Yang’s rousing comics speech at the 2014 National Book Festival gala
From the Washington Post, article here.
GENE LUEN YANG, Library of Congress, Jefferson Building:
Good evening. Thank you, Library of Congress and National Book Festival, for inviting me to share the stage with such esteemed authors, and to speak with all of you. I am deeply grateful for this honor.
I’m a comic-book guy, so tonight I’d like to talk about another comic book guy. Dwayne McDuffie was one of my favorite writers. When I was growing up, he was one of the few African-Americans working in American comics. Dwayne worked primarily within the superhero genre. He got his start at Marvel Comics but eventually worked for almost every comic book publisher out there. He even branched out into television and wrote for popular cartoon series like “Justice League” and “Ben 10.”
Dwayne McDuffie
Dwayne McDuffie is no longer with us, unfortunately. He passed away in 2011, at the age of 49. But within comics, his influence is still deeply felt.
I was lucky enough to have met him once. About a year before his death, we were on a panel together at Comic-Con. I had the opportunity to shake his hand and tell him how much his work meant to me.
In a column Dwayne wrote in 1999, he talked about his love of the Black Panther, a Marvel Comics character. The Black Panther’s secret alias is T’Challa, the king of the fictional African nation of Wakanda. He has super senses, super strength, and super agility. He’s an Avenger, though he hasn’t yet made it into the movies.
The Black Panther wasn’t created by African American cartoonists. He was created in July of 1966 by two Jewish Americans, Stan Lee (who was born Stanley Lieber) and Jack Kirby (who was born Jacob Kurtzberg).
By modern standards, the Black Panther is not a flawless example of a black superhero. In their first draft of the character, Lee and Kirby called him “the Coal Tiger” and gave him a goofy yellow and black costume. Even in his final form, his superhero alias includes the word “Black.” This is true of many early African and African American superheroes, as if what makes them remarkable is neither their superpowers nor their heroism, but their ethnicity. Most problematic, though, was that Marvel made their most prominent black superhero the star of a series called Jungle Action.
All of these flaws were lost on Dwayne McDuffie when he first encountered the Black Panther in 1973, at the age of 11. What struck him was the character’s commanding sense of dignity. The Black Panther wasn’t anyone’s sidekick. He wasn’t an angry thug. He wasn’t a victim. He was his own hero, his own man. As Dwayne describes it, “In the space of 15 pages, black people moved from invisible to inevitable.”
Dwayne’s love of the Black Panther eventually blossomed into a love of comics in general. Dwayne was a smart guy with a lot of options in life. He’d earned a master’s degree in physics. But he chose to write comics as his career. I would argue that without the Black Panther, this flawed black character created by a writer and an artist who were not black, there would be no Dwayne McDuffie the comic book writer.
Dwayne wasn’t just a writer — he was also a businessman. In the early ’90s, he teamed with a group of writers and artists to found Milestone Media, the most prominent minority-owned comic book company that has ever existed. The Milestone universe have since been folded into DC Comics, so these days characters like Static Shock and Icon – characters Dwayne co-created – fight crime alongside Superman and Batman.
In the early ’90s, I was finishing up my adolescence. I visited my local comic-book store on a weekly basis, and one week I found a book on the stands called Xombi, published by Milestone Media. Xombi is a scientist who became a superhero after he was injected with nanotechnology. He allied himself with a secret order of superpowered nuns. One sister was known as Nun of the Above, another Nun the Less. Together, they protected the world from all kinds of supernatural threats.
Xombi was inventive and fun, but he stood out to me because he was an Asian American male carrying in his own monthly title. And even more notable – he didn’t know Kung Fu. Xombi wasn’t created by Asian Americans – his writer was white and his artist black – but he did make Asian Americans a little less invisible.
We in the book community are in the middle of a sustained conversation about diversity. We talk about our need for diverse books with diverse characters written by diverse writers. I wholeheartedly agree.
But I have noticed an undercurrent of fear in many of our discussions. We’re afraid of writing characters different from ourselves because we’re afraid of getting it wrong. We’re afraid of what the Internet might say.
This fear can be a good thing if it drives us to do our homework, to be meticulous in our cultural research. But this fear crosses the line when we become so intimidated that we quietly make choices against stepping out of our own identities. After all, our job as writers is to step out of ourselves, and to encourage our readers to do the same.
I told you the story of Dwayne McDuffie to encourage all of us to be generous with ourselves and with one another. The Black Panther, despite his flaws, was able to inspire a young African American reader to become a writer.
We have to allow ourselves the freedom to make mistakes, including cultural mistakes, in our first drafts. I believe it’s okay to get cultural details wrong in your first draft. It’s okay if stereotypes emerge. It just means that your experience is limited, that you’re human.
Just make sure you iron them out before the final draft. Make sure you do your homework. Make sure your early readers include people who are a part of the culture you’re writing about. Make sure your editor has the insider knowledge to help you out. If they don’t, consider hiring a freelance editor who does.
Also, it’s okay if stereotypes emerge in the first drafts of your colleagues. Correct them – definitely correct them – but do so in a spirit of generosity. Remember how soul-wrenching the act of writing is, how much courage it took for that writer to put words down on a page.
And let’s say you do your best. You put in all the effort you can. But then when your book comes out, the Internet gets angry. You slowly realize that, for once, the Internet might be right. You made a cultural misstep. If this happens, take comfort in the fact that even flawed characters can inspire. Apologize if necessary, resolve do better, and move on.
Let your fear drive you to do your homework. But no matter what, don’t ever let your fear stop you.


Gene is the best dude.

THIS SPEECH.

rainbowrowell:

faitherinhicks:

greg-pak:

Gene Yang is one of my heroes. Read this, y’all.

weneeddiversebooks:

Read This: Gene Luen Yang’s rousing comics speech at the 2014 National Book Festival gala

From the Washington Post, article here.

GENE LUEN YANG, Library of Congress, Jefferson Building:

Good evening. Thank you, Library of Congress and National Book Festival, for inviting me to share the stage with such esteemed authors, and to speak with all of you. I am deeply grateful for this honor.

I’m a comic-book guy, so tonight I’d like to talk about another comic book guy. Dwayne McDuffie was one of my favorite writers. When I was growing up, he was one of the few African-Americans working in American comics. Dwayne worked primarily within the superhero genre. He got his start at Marvel Comics but eventually worked for almost every comic book publisher out there. He even branched out into television and wrote for popular cartoon series like “Justice League” and “Ben 10.”

Dwayne McDuffie is no longer with us, unfortunately. He passed away in 2011, at the age of 49. But within comics, his influence is still deeply felt.

I was lucky enough to have met him once. About a year before his death, we were on a panel together at Comic-Con. I had the opportunity to shake his hand and tell him how much his work meant to me.

In a column Dwayne wrote in 1999, he talked about his love of the Black Panther, a Marvel Comics character. The Black Panther’s secret alias is T’Challa, the king of the fictional African nation of Wakanda. He has super senses, super strength, and super agility. He’s an Avenger, though he hasn’t yet made it into the movies.

The Black Panther wasn’t created by African American cartoonists. He was created in July of 1966 by two Jewish Americans, Stan Lee (who was born Stanley Lieber) and Jack Kirby (who was born Jacob Kurtzberg).

By modern standards, the Black Panther is not a flawless example of a black superhero. In their first draft of the character, Lee and Kirby called him “the Coal Tiger” and gave him a goofy yellow and black costume. Even in his final form, his superhero alias includes the word “Black.” This is true of many early African and African American superheroes, as if what makes them remarkable is neither their superpowers nor their heroism, but their ethnicity. Most problematic, though, was that Marvel made their most prominent black superhero the star of a series called Jungle Action.

All of these flaws were lost on Dwayne McDuffie when he first encountered the Black Panther in 1973, at the age of 11. What struck him was the character’s commanding sense of dignity. The Black Panther wasn’t anyone’s sidekick. He wasn’t an angry thug. He wasn’t a victim. He was his own hero, his own man. As Dwayne describes it, “In the space of 15 pages, black people moved from invisible to inevitable.”

Dwayne’s love of the Black Panther eventually blossomed into a love of comics in general. Dwayne was a smart guy with a lot of options in life. He’d earned a master’s degree in physics. But he chose to write comics as his career. I would argue that without the Black Panther, this flawed black character created by a writer and an artist who were not black, there would be no Dwayne McDuffie the comic book writer.

Dwayne wasn’t just a writer — he was also a businessman. In the early ’90s, he teamed with a group of writers and artists to found Milestone Media, the most prominent minority-owned comic book company that has ever existed. The Milestone universe have since been folded into DC Comics, so these days characters like Static Shock and Icon – characters Dwayne co-created – fight crime alongside Superman and Batman.

In the early ’90s, I was finishing up my adolescence. I visited my local comic-book store on a weekly basis, and one week I found a book on the stands called Xombi, published by Milestone Media. Xombi is a scientist who became a superhero after he was injected with nanotechnology. He allied himself with a secret order of superpowered nuns. One sister was known as Nun of the Above, another Nun the Less. Together, they protected the world from all kinds of supernatural threats.

Xombi was inventive and fun, but he stood out to me because he was an Asian American male carrying in his own monthly title. And even more notable – he didn’t know Kung Fu. Xombi wasn’t created by Asian Americans – his writer was white and his artist black – but he did make Asian Americans a little less invisible.

We in the book community are in the middle of a sustained conversation about diversity. We talk about our need for diverse books with diverse characters written by diverse writers. I wholeheartedly agree.

But I have noticed an undercurrent of fear in many of our discussions. We’re afraid of writing characters different from ourselves because we’re afraid of getting it wrong. We’re afraid of what the Internet might say.

This fear can be a good thing if it drives us to do our homework, to be meticulous in our cultural research. But this fear crosses the line when we become so intimidated that we quietly make choices against stepping out of our own identities.
After all, our job as writers is to step out of ourselves, and to encourage our readers to do the same.

I told you the story of Dwayne McDuffie to encourage all of us to be generous with ourselves and with one another. The Black Panther, despite his flaws, was able to inspire a young African American reader to become a writer.

We have to allow ourselves the freedom to make mistakes, including cultural mistakes, in our first drafts. I believe it’s okay to get cultural details wrong in your first draft. It’s okay if stereotypes emerge. It just means that your experience is limited, that you’re human.

Just make sure you iron them out before the final draft. Make sure you do your homework. Make sure your early readers include people who are a part of the culture you’re writing about. Make sure your editor has the insider knowledge to help you out. If they don’t, consider hiring a freelance editor who does.

Also, it’s okay if stereotypes emerge in the first drafts of your colleagues. Correct them – definitely correct them – but do so in a spirit of generosity. Remember how soul-wrenching the act of writing is, how much courage it took for that writer to put words down on a page.

And let’s say you do your best. You put in all the effort you can. But then when your book comes out, the Internet gets angry. You slowly realize that, for once, the Internet might be right. You made a cultural misstep. If this happens, take comfort in the fact that even flawed characters can inspire. Apologize if necessary, resolve do better, and move on.

Let your fear drive you to do your homework. But no matter what, don’t ever let your fear stop you.

Gene is the best dude.

THIS SPEECH.

tonystarklordofwinterfell:

So, I was at lunch with a friend and his sister after seeing ‘Guardians of the Galaxy’, catching up on stuff and talk turned to the new series of Doctor Who - our expectations, Peter Capaldi, Jenna possibly leaving, the Matt Smith era - and his sister suddenly…

(Source: burntlikethesun, via ecmock)

"I think one thing you can do to help your friends who are depressed is to reach out to them not in the spirit of helping, but in the spirit of liking them and wanting their company. “I’m here to help if you ever need me” is good to know, but hard to act on, especially when you’re in a dark place. Specific, ongoing, pleasure-based invitations are much easier to absorb. “I’m here. Let’s go to the movies. Or stay in and order takeout and watch some dumb TV.” “I’m having a party, it would be really great if you could come for a little while.” Ask them for help with things you know they are good at and like doing, so there is reciprocity and a way for them to contribute. “Will you come over Sunday and help me clear my closet of unfashionable and unflattering items? I trust your eye.” “Will you read this story I wrote and help me fix the dialogue?” “Want to make dinner together? You chop, I’ll assemble.” “I am going glasses shopping and I need another set of eyes.” Remind yourself why you like this person, and in the process, remind them that they are likable and worth your time and interest.

Talk to the parts of the person that aren’t being eaten by the depression. Make it as easy as possible to make and keep plans, if you have the emotional resources to be the initiator and to meet your friends a little more than halfway. If the person turns down a bunch of invitations in a row because (presumably) they don’t have the energy to be social, respect their autonomy by giving it a month or two and then try again. Keep the invitations simple; “Any chance we could have breakfast Saturday?” > “ARE YOU AVOIDING ME BECAUSE YOU’RE DEPRESSED OR BECAUSE YOU HATE ME I AM ONLY TRYING TO HELP YOU.” “I miss you and I want to see you” > “I’m worried about you.” A depressed person is going to have a shame spiral about how their shame is making them avoid you and how that’s giving them more shame, which is making them avoid you no matter what you do. No need for you to call attention to it. Just keep asking. “I want to see you” “Let’s do this thing.” “If you are feeling low, I understand, and I don’t want to impose on you, but I miss your face. Please come have coffee with me.” “Apology accepted. ApologIES accepted. So. Gelato and Outlander?”"

#613: How do I reach out to my friends who have depression? | Captain Awkward

P.S. A lot of people with depression and other mental illnesses have trouble making decisions or choosing from a bunch of different options. “Wanna get dinner at that pizza place on Tuesday night?” is a LOT easier to answer than “So wanna hang out sometime? What do you want to do?”

(via startrekrenegades)

SUPER GREAT ADVICE.

(via rainbowrowell)

(via rainbowrowell)

Questions Without Answers #4: What do I do when I get conflicting advice about revision?

First of all, pat yourself on the back.

Seriously, if you’re getting conflicting advice about revision, that means that you’re showing it to lots of different people, which is a courageous step and is really healthy for you becoming a better writer. It also means that you’ve found people to read your work who are giving you real feedback and not just “It’s great!” that family and friends often stop at.

Second, welcome to the real world.

If you go and look at reader reviews at amazon or goodreads, you’re going to see how varied the opinions are. Some people love Twilight with a holy passion. Other people hate it so much their minds explode. So it shouldn’t be a surprise that people react differently to your book, in its first stage.

I’d suggest making sure that you take notes if you go to a writers’ group to get criticism. Write down anything that immediately chimes with you. If you think—that’s what I meant to do or—of course, I should have thought of that, highlight or star or underline or box these comments. And then don’t work on the book immediately. Let it sit for a month and then go back to it and you will probably be able to see more clearly what *you* want to do to make your book better.

I say this as someone who has tried several times to write a novel based on a committee of feedback, trying to please everyone. A little distance can help you see things more clearly and gives you time to forget exactly what other people said. You don’t need the voices of other people in your head while you work. What you need to do is make an action list of things that *you* want to fix. If that happens to coincide with a few items on other people’s lists, that’s fine.

Beware of doing everything anyone tells you to do. Yes, even your agent. Yes, even your editor. Beware of doing nothing other people tell you to do. While I would read an editorial letter a few times during the process just to keep touch with the comments, don’t read it every day. That’s my advice anyway.

Conflicting advice during revision may make you think that no one knows anything. I remember when I was in high school, there were a bunch of students who thought that anyone who graded an essay was doing it completely subjectively because there were no objective standards for a good essay. Au contraire! The same is true for novel writing.

I would pay more attention to people who say things like:

1. I was confused by … .

2. I thought this part was boring…

3. I didn’t understand why this person did this …

I would pay less attention to people who say things like:

1. I really didn’t sympathize with this character…

2. I think you should add more of this …

3. I wish you would take out this part because it annoys me …

And here is something to remember about any critique that you get, paid for or in a writers group or anywhere at all. Your book is *your* book. No one (not even your editor) can MAKE you change something. I’m not saying to be stupid and refuse to listen to people who are trying to help you make a better book. But if you have a reason (even if it’s only that your gut is telling you something), talk it over with an agent or editor. And with other people, you don’t need to convince them. They shouldn’t be looking over your shoulder while you write. They give you feedback. You decide what to do with it.

"The trend of labeling women “crazy” is part of the culture that socializes women to go along to get along. When women are told over and over again that they’re not allowed to feel the way they feel and that they’re being “unreasonable” or “oversensitive”, they’re conditioned to not trust their own emotions. Their behavior – being assertive, even demanding or standing up for how they feel – becomes an “inconvenience” to men and they’re taught not to give offense and to consider the feelings of others before their own."

On Labeling Women “Crazy” | Paging Dr. NerdLove - Part 2 (via brutereason)

(via seananmcguire)

Questions Without Answers #3: How Can I Tell if My Editor’s Comments are Right or Wrong for My Book?

I can answer this with a zen comment like, “If it *feels* right, then that means that you should go with it.” I’ve heard people say that if it chimes with you automatically, then it’s the right way to go. Or that if you envision the book with those changes and it is closer to the book you wanted to write, then they’re good comments.

Here’s the reality:

No editor is ever going to see the book in exactly the same way that you do. And this is a good thing.

Yes, I have seen people make changes that an editor suggested that I thought were a mistake.

But most of the time, what happens between an author and an editor is a collaboration that ends up with a book that is better than what either of them would have produced separately.

That means that the collaboration isn’t just a compromise kind of situation, where you get some of what you want and the other person gets some of what she wants. It means that you are bouncing ideas off of each other and sparking brilliant new ways of solving problems that you couldn’t do yourself. The best kinds of collaborations between authors do this same thing.

But with an editor, it’s a little different because an editor has a sharp eye for what is working and what isn’t working. Editors also have a bit of an idea (if they’re experienced) of how to get an author to think about something differently, or how to approach a problem in a new way. Sometimes other authors don’t always know how to do that.

So I would say that it’s less important if you immediately feel a zen peace with your editor’s comments and more important if you and your editor work well together. If you can call up your editor and start pinging ideas off of her, that’s a great thing. If she has ideas for you, also a great thing.

I know some people don’t like editors suggesting something. They only want critical feedback of the sort that says—this needs to be fixed. I’m a little more loose about what an editor does. I tend not to mind if an editor (horror!) adds a sentence here and there to my manuscript. I don’t feel possessive of my words that way.

I feel like a novel is a collaboration between an author and a reader, as well, and I have much less control over that. Having an idea in the first place, writing it down and then going through multiple drafts on my own—that’s my first step. But letting other people see it, writers groups, friends, agent, and editor, doesn’t make me feel like the novel is less mine.

That said, I would beware of you as the author feeling resentful about changes you feel “forced” to make. That should never be the spirit of the relationship. And if you feel like you’ve lost the sense of the novel being yours, that’s a problem you’re going to have to work out. You may need some time without the editor seeing the book to play with and get your touch back for it. Same thing with multiple drafts with a writers group or an agent.

Questions Without Answers #2: How Do I Know When I’m Done Editing?

Everyone is going to answer this a different way.

Some choices:

1. You’re done editing when your deadline hits.

2. You’re done editing when you say you’re done and you shouldn’t let anyone rush you.

3. You’re never done editing and you are going to keep editing a book in your mind every time you see the words again.

4. You’re done editing when you’re ready to write the next book.

No one can tell you the answer to this question. You make the answer to the question by your own actions.

Does that mean there isn’t anyone who can offer you useful advice? No. Hopefully, you have writing friends who can give you general rules of thumb. An agent can be useful if s/he can say, “Now it’s ready to go out,” which isn’t the same as being done being edited.

But ultimately, there is no expert about this. There is no one who can say, “You edit it six times and then it’s done. The first time, you edit for character. The second time, you edit for plot. The third time you edit for pacing. The fourth time you edit for time scale. The fifth time you edit for language. The sixth time you edit to get details right.”

Yes, there are lots of people out there who will tell you a very specific answer to this question. To me, hearing people pontificate about a specific answer to something like this is really useful to me because then I can add them to my list of people that I don’t ever want to talk to about writing (or politics, either) again.

As a kid, I remember that when adults told me that the answer to something was “it depends,” I got really frustrated. I didn’t want to be part of the adult world where everything was gray and there was no black and white. That’s why I liked math, see? There was an answer and the teacher knew what it was.

But the adult world of writing is even more full of gray than I had imagined. No one knows the answer to my questions. And as an adult, I’m actually really happy about this because the questions I’m asking are only interesting to me because there aren’t any answers.

The reason that no one can tell me when I’m done editing my book is that I’m writing a book that no one has written before, not even remotely. If someone else had written it and there was an answer so that you knew when it was done, I wouldn’t be writing it.

(And as it turns out, after talking to my mathematician friends, this seems to be true in math as well. Mathematicians are not at all interested, once they are on a certain level, in working on problems with obvious answers for the rest of us. They want to deal with questions no one knows the answer to yet, too. So they find problems that are really, really hard. And spend sometimes their whole lives working on them. And this makes them happy. Go figure.)

Questions Without Answers #1

A lot of writers will ask me a variation on the following:

How do I know if this is the right book for me to be writing?

I want to kind of laugh, but really, it would be mean. Because I know it’s a real question and I know that someone is hoping that another person has the answer to it.

I suspect what they’re hoping for me to say is something like, you know it’s the right book because you have a feeling inside that just chimes. Or, you know it’s the right book because when you talk about it, everyone is super interested in it. Or you know it’s the right book because your agent keeps bugging you to write it.

But that’s not really the way that it is. Sure, there are ideas floating around and some are probably better than others. Some are hackneyed. Some are so overused that at the moment, it might not be a good idea to spend a whole bunch of time on a book idea that might feel to an editor that it’s been overdone.

On the other hand, who would have guessed that it was time for vampires to come back when Twilight was published? Did The Hunger Games anticipate a new trend for dystopia or create one? Why is Harry Potter the school with wizards book that made it big when there are arguably better school with wizard books out there already?

No one can tell you which book you should write. And there’s no magical sense of “rightness” that’s going to make you sure that this is the one. Asking for that is basically asking for a time machine.

All I can say is this:

You make a book the right one by refusing to give up on it.

You make a book the right one by revising it again and again until it’s so good that people love it.

You make a book the right one by pouring yourself into it in ways that make you squirm and embarrass you when people who know you too well, including your parents, read it.

You make a book the right one by pushing aside thoughts of success and writing the best book that you can write.

You make a book the right one by becoming the right author to write that kind of book.

You make a book the right one by refusing to ask yourself if it’s the right one because you’re not going to work on another one until this one is finished, by gum!

antiqueight:

Deconstructing Masculinity & Manhood with Michael Kimmel @ Dartmouth College

I do actually see a white woman but the point is still valid because the implications are still terribly different.

(Source: exgynocraticgrrl, via maryrobinette)