Wednesday, November 18, 2020

The Diversity Paradox

by Janis Patterson

Can I make a confession? I love Thanksgiving - the family, the excitement of the beginning of the holiday season, the Americanism of the day, and yes, of course the food - but I hate turkey. Oh, I know people rave about it, how good it is and how good for you it is, and some people (including The Husband) eat it all year around. I just don’t like it. Badly cooked it tastes like fibrous cardboard. Even when well cooked it tastes like a slightly off chicken. But that doesn’t change the fact I love Thanksgiving - I just don’t eat the turkey.

Which is a rather clumsy way of saying that there is room for all opinions in this great big world, even in publishing as in food. There is something for everyone. Don’t like science fiction? Don’t read it. Don’t like romance? Same. Don’t like an alternative history mystery suspense set on Alpha Centauri with a cast of half-humanoids/half-reptiles? Don’t pick it up. 

Every permutation of genre has someone who wants to read it. That’s one of the glories of self-publishing - as a writer you can hit that special niche, no matter how small or restricted it is. The big commercial publishers, bound by the sheer economics of distribution and print runs and storage, can’t. They have to hit the broadest audiences possible in order to make a profit - which, unfortunately, is the bottom line for corporations. 

However - there is a disturbing sub-current swelling through the writing world. Instead of allowing the writer to create the story he wants, there are those urging that stories must glorify and showcase ‘diversity’ no matter if it suits the writer’s vision of his story or not. (Don’t get me wrong - I am in favor of diversity; it is a good thing, but only when it happens naturally and organically instead of being forced down writers/readers throats as a mandate.)

Neither do readers escape this dictate; they are very strongly urged to spend money which they might not have to buy books they might not be interested in and use time they might not have to read books by people they’ve never heard of - all in homage to the god of diversity. Reading is many things to all people, but in my opinion non-scholarly reading is for most an escape, a time of fantasy where I can go to a place untainted by the myriad complexities of the modern world. And I don’t think that’s wrong.

A nationally-known writing organization recently turned itself inside out and lost a number of members in the process for just this reason. Yes, there were things about the organization that could have been better, but the resolution could have been done better as well. One does not use a Howitzer to kill a mosquito, or level a building to fix a plumbing leak. Overkill is neither good nor practical. That, however, is just my opinion. Yours may differ.

So - as there are differences of opinion and style in the real world, so should there also be in the world of reading and writing. And, dare I add, in the gastronomical world. I wish everyone here the happiest and most enjoyable of Thanksgivings. Appreciate your families and delight in the traditional orgy of eating. May you even enjoy turkey if you like it - just don’t expect me to have any.


Marilyn Meredith a.k.a. F. M. Meredith said...

Love turkey and this article. We'd all do well to embrace our differences in so many ways.

Morgan Mandel said...

You hit the nail on the head. Write and read what you want. Let others do the same, and don't let others force us to write what they want us to write.