Friday, February 01, 2008

Embattled

Well, am in the first part of my WIP Inheritance. (Which I might be calling "Til all these things be done") and once again my characters are embattled.

I have to speak a word about embattledness and the dangers of melodrama. I am a total believer that there are a few folks in life who are embattled on many sides, that there is always human darkness, demonic darkness, world issues that get in the way of folks living some kind of a good, happy, or sane life.

The depiction of these kind of characters can either lead to wonderful heroes (in fantasy) or melodrama (in mainstream novels). There's also the question of believability. One wants to push the envelope by holding a mirror up to life -- as some great writer once said-- but at the same time holding up that mirror may not work because some folks simply are not going to believe that all that crap can happen to one person.

Let's say one has had -- or one knows a person who has had-- a really tough life. Then one really has to choose what aspects of that life one will describe and what aspects one will leave out of the story. Or else it won't work for some folks who think you're just engaging in character torture.

I had a Wyoming pen-pal who said to me once, "I don't see why black folks talk about racism. It's as if they think no one has suffered. I've suffered too. I had a child out of wedlock. I was married to a drunk." I realized to my extreme surprise that she thought that the ONLY problem black folks had was racism. She didn't realize that some Black folks have had her problems as well but then race gets added into the mix. Racism is just hard for some folks to understand. I'll just say, "Imagine dealing with having to take one's mother off life support and then add racist doctors and racist social workers in the mix." OR add "Anti-Christian racist doctors." Trust me, folks, it's a trip!

Black writers have to write a story that gives a character the sorrows of regular life ...and at the same time has to slip into the story the sorrows that racism brings. I've read stories that seem to be about either one or the other but not both. And I've read stories that have both of these challenges. Add being a Christian to the mix, or being sickly...and well...folks don't realize you're telling all your heart and sharing your experiences of life. They think you're piling it on.

I suppose one could compartmentalize one's sorrows into different books but what's the use of that? Not that a writer writes to be known by all her readers, but she writes to explain something. And I want to write about being embattled. (With of course some religion and kinky sex thrown in. We're talking succubus, after all.)
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