Before any other words are typed: I am a reader above everything else, a reader of many genres but mostly Romance in one form or another. I’m not “Just” a reader for my thoughts have as much validity as anyone else’s. And, yes, I am a book review blogger – a small blog where I get enjoyment from sharing my thoughts about the various books that I read. But, today, I’m writing this post as a reader for, at the heart, that is what I honestly am.
December 23rd/24th is a time that will live on in my memory for it was the beginning of such eye-opening experiences that I’m still grappling to put them into some order. At that time author, Courtney Milan was handed down a harsh sentence by the RWA (Romance Writers of America) because simply put. she dared to call out the racist mess that was another author’s book written in the 1990s and reissued recently. Ms. Milan has been a champion of/for marginalized authors as she is bold, brave, and tireless in calling out people on their BS. You can (if you somehow have missed this implosion) look over the events from the beginning by logging onto Twitter and going to @CourtneyMilan. An excellent post about The Implosion of the RWA can be found at this text link, the timeline says it all really. Or do a simple Google search, it will not be difficult to find.
I’ve spent the past several days furious, incredulous, sad and even stunned at what I’ve seen happening and what I’ve read from writers who have the receipts, not just the words. I do not personally know any of the people directly involved in this… situation. I do know, have read, and now intend to read even more authors that I’ve just discovered who have had some positive or enlightening comment to bring to this situation. As the initial fury has worn down some I’m left with feeling simply… disappointed, still angry yet the feeling of being let down by people I don’t even know is very strong. I cannot even imagine the hell those who worked with, had to deal with, or interact with all of this are experiencing right now.
Logical or not, I’m most disappointed in the voices I haven’t yet seen. Their silence is speaking volumes to me, and illogically that makes me both sad and angry. I’ve learned some new facts these last few days that have me rethinking so much about the books I spent good money on, now and in the past. And I can tell you right now there are several writers that I will never pick up a book written by them ever again. Never. On the flip side of that, there are so many new (to me) voices that I want to spend some time getting to know their storytelling talents. My One-Click ability is definitely being put to use at Amazon and I keep adding more books to that cart, books that are a total mystery as to whether I’ll love them or not – but that’s not the real point, the point is to broaden my reading enjoyment experience, which is why I pick up a book in any form in the first place.
I’ve learned a few lessons from this, ones that I hope will remain with me and not fade away over time. I need to “do better”. In many things, I know what needs addressing, perhaps not as huge as some but still, I need to “do better” myself. I need to look beyond the stories I read to the people who are writing them to get a feel for each writer as a person and where they stand on life issues. Should I have to do that? No. But I should for those words are weaving a story, a world in my mind and now I want to be certain that the underlying message being sent to my own mind is one that I’m comfortable with – and I’ve discovered that not all were in my reading past.
I am so sorry for what was done to Courtney Milan (and, as we’ve learned so many others). What happened was wrong on so many levels. The lives that have been impacted are countless really for who knows how many are simply absorbing all of this information and not speaking publically. So yes, #IStandWithCourtney is the hashtag that’s being used and it is my stand as well. We need people like Courtney and so many others to take a stand, expose what is not acceptable and make change possible. I’ve no clue how this “story” ends – I do know that I’ll watch it unfold on my Twitter feed (like so many others) and try to not be surprised by what I’m still going to learn.