Friday, April 25, 2014

Give Me MORE!

I waste time on the internet. There. I've said it. Shouldn't come as a surprise to anyone. Usually when I waste time on the internet, I'm looking for writing advice, following my favorite authors on twitter, and reading about trends in young adult literature.
And I keep seeing more of the same. More about how there aren't enough books about people of color. More about how there aren't enough LGBT characters. More about how we need different religions represented in books. More about how there aren't enough novels set in non-Western countries. More books that portray sexuality in a realistic, positive way. More about the lack of physically handicapped characters. More about the need for mental illness on the page. More about non-traditional families. More about how there aren't enough books for boys. More about how there aren't enough books about girls.
Everyone has a different idea of which group is the most underrepresented. But everyone seems to agree, we need MORE of everything.
Seeing yourself in a book is a beautiful thing. But not every book can be that beautiful, heartwarming story. The one that makes you feel comfortable in your own skin-or the one that helps you slip into someone else's. Sometimes, the best thing an author can do is tell a good story. One story cannot represent everyone.
The fact that People On The Internet have opinions doesn't bother me. I can sympathize with most of them. What bothers me is that everyone has a complaint but few people are prepared to solve it.
The lack of MORE could easily be solved if everyone did a little. A blog post, a web article, a comment section rant, those can get people thinking. But a book can do so much more.
Not everyone can write a book. But those who can't write one could write a poem instead. Those who can't write a poem can write a play. Those who can't write a play can write a song. Those who can't write a song can paint a picture. Those who can't paint a picture can draw a comic. Everyone is capable of doing something.
Not everyone can create professionally. But singing a song about MORE and uploading it to youtube does more than keeping your lips shut. Everyone is capable of doing something.
And those who insist they have no creative ability whatsoever? Who insist that others are responsible for the lack of more? They can promote. They can post reviews of media that does do a good job of including the MORE. Everything is capable of doing something.
Reading an opinion from someone who has done nothing to add MORE to the world isn't at all different from a person who doesn't vote complaining about politics.
I keep coming back to that Toni Morrison quote: "If there's a book you really want to read but it hasn't been written yet, then you must write it."
Toni Morrison is a black writer. She's known for her books about black characters. She's received a Pulitzer Prize, a Presidential Medal of Freedom, and just about everything in between. And she deserves them because she went and added MORE black characters into the world. She didn't sit on her couch and grumble about the lack of MORE.
Complaining on the internet does not create MORE. It just reminds us of the lack of it. Pointing out a problem and not doing anything about it is whining. Me? What I'm doing here? Whining. My words have no merit. I'm well aware of it. I've seen enough of the internet that I no longer take anyone's opinion seriously, including my own. Leave me a comment, please. Prove me wrong. Say something I haven't heard before. Remind me just how little MORE there is in the world. How underrepresented you feel. Give me a statistic in the 90-100% range about how many books aren't about MORE.
But do any of you out there have stories about the time you dared the break societal norms? Have you done anything to add MORE into the universe?
There will never be enough MORE until you create it.

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