On Saturday July 19, 2020 I was fortunate enough to be invited to collab on the Diversity in Writing Panel for the Evergreen Writing Oasis Retreat. The retreat was a three-day event that ran through Friday July 17, 2020 until Sunday July 19, 2020 as a free service to help writers deal with brainstorming, editing, series bibles, and writing diverse characters or diverse cultures.
The Diversity in Writing Panel hoped to answer questions writers may have when trying to write for a diverse character or characters in a minority demographic. Kashay Warren was the one hosting the panel and I among other honored guests had four questions to answer before taking questions from the audience. I know being a part of the disability community helped present a conversation around writing disabled characters, yet I must be honest and admit my anxiety prior to the panel starting.
I feared that the other guests on the panel would have more to offer than myself. I was quick to admit that I felt privileged being white and not a person of color. I wanted what I offered to be authentic and transparent, yet there was still a part of me that felt that I was harboring feelings of imposter syndrome.
The panel was a wonderful way to see how diverse types of cultures, such as biracial, black Americans, disabled, transgendered, and LGBTQ+ can be written in a more authentic way. I learned that you could write characters of color or disabled characters even if it doesn’t apply to you if you’re willing to do research and hire sensitivity readers.
Be willing to learn from your mistakes, if your sensitivity reader tells you that you got something wrong don’t take offense to it but use their guidance to make your story stronger. Here is a link to the panel if you would like to be educated further. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UMqoNXth_j4&t=11s
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Self-Doubt My anxiety always gets the better of me, trying to tell me that either I’m not good enough or no one values my opinion. It stems from years of being bullied and verbal/emotional abuse from others. Those negative feelings are repeated daily, and you start to believe them, fostering self-doubt in everything you do. Being vulnerable by writing a diverse character with experiences of your life, leaves you open to criticism of parts of your past you’re afraid to examine too closely.
In August, Kashay is starting a challenge for the month to write about a disabled character. This was brought on by the Disability Discussion she held last month, which again she was kind enough to invite me to. With a new supportive writing family behind me,
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I have decided to embrace this new challenge and create a story with a blind character. She will be the main heroine who will embrace being blind instead of letting it cripple her dreams. I am excited to branch outside of my comfort zone and write something from my experiences.
Burned it! Emberly