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We live in a world where publishing has become as easy as buying a book at Amazon. Anyone who want’s to, can share their work, either for free or for a charge. Yet there are a lot of people, readers, other writers, journalists, and many more who are annoyed or even upset about the easiness of which anyone can publish. They cry out about technicalities not regarded properly. The scream at misspelled words, at bad grammar and bad style. They complain about how a writer tells her/his story if they don’t go the usual way, whatever that is. They wage war against the unusual and out of the box or unguided and inexperienced. And that’s their right. They have a right to their opinion and to voice it. They have a right to point out all those flaws and to share their findings with everyone else.
Over the last year, I have seen and heard it all. Well maybe not all but a lot. From a one star review complaining about my spelling and grammar, of which I warned, to five star reviews that made my heart swell with pride and joy. Looking back at 2016 and the five books I published, and the countless books I read, I realize something. One of the big topics during the year was diversity, racism, and bigotry. I saw hundreds of posts on Facebook from other authors about how we need to have diversity in our stories, to promote togetherness and acceptance in our worlds of fiction and fantasy. Something I deeply agree with. Those posts and the events of last year made me realize two things I want to share.
As a writer, good or bad, known or unknown, famous or lost in the multitude of others, we have a chance and a responsibility. The saying, the feather is mightier than the sword, doesn’t come from nothing. There is truth in it. As writers, we have the chance to influence, inform and even shape others. No matter what we write, from fiction to fantasy, from biography to all the non-fictions, we reach people. With our words, we touch their minds and sometimes their souls. With the world we paint, we educate, share our opinions, emotions, and hopes. We let them into our dreams and our fears. With each word we share a part of our mind and soul with our reader. All throughout history there have been writers that inspired. Some ignited a flame inside others, leading to great inventions, pollical change, or rebellion as well as peace. With the stroke of a feather, wars rose, kingdoms fell and societies were reconstructed after being torn down. It’s scary to think about the power one writer can wield by sharing a piece of themselves. Which words will do what, nobody will know until it happened. There have been works that went utterly unnoticed, had been scrutinized and frowned upon, until they ended up in the hand of one person and changed that person. Which brings me to the second realization.
This will be something many will take as an excuse on my side for publishing my work without a professional edit, especially since I’m dyslexic and mistakes are a certainty. It’s not. An excuse I mean. Publishers, bloggers, reviews and so many others want more diversity especially infictional work. They ask the writing community to stand up against bigotry and hatred, against racism and homophobia. Something I agree with, yet the same people are often the ones doing everything in their power to suppress the same diversity within the writing community. And no, I don’t mean that they should accept bad spelling of grammar. As often as I read articles about the writing community promoting the acceptance of diversity, I read articles condemning self-publishing authors. What I disliked (hated) the most was when those articles attacked not a specific writer, but the broad spectrum of self-publishing writers. They didn’t attack because of bad editing or poor cover design, neither for endlessly ongoing sentences that simply didn’t seem to end. What they criticized was the way the writer told their story, the style, or the topic or how explicit their sex scenes were. They complained about writers who didn’t study the craft at a college or university. They judged on experience and if that author had ever made it onto a bestseller list or not. They put all writers into a box and those who didn’t fit that box were ridiculed and condemned as bad writers.
The same people who told us to embrace diversity, rejected the very same thing within the writing community.
Writing not unlike painting is an art and as such it is subjective. Where one might find a story boring and shallow, another might find beauty and depth. Like a song doesn’t sound the same to everyone’s ear, a story doesn’t touch everyone’s soul the same way. Some styles are for a brought spectrum of people, while others are just for some. Diversity means a multitude of attributes, different ways of thinking and interpreting. It means many different ways of telling a story, of conveying one’s thoughts. It means stepping out from the box society, rules and holier then thy critiques want to keep us in.
Self-publishing opened the doors for diversity, to be embraced not just by being integrated in the stories written but by accepting the multitude of ways a story is told. Every story, no matter how it is told, has a right to exist, has a purpose and a meaning. Each one has the possibility to inspire and ignite a spark.
And when this year runs out in a few hours, I know that I touched some people with my stories, shared some of my soul with them and maybe inspired them in some way. I go into the next year knowing that I will do it all over again, with new stories and those already published. But most of all I know that I and many others, embrace diversity not just with our writing but with our acceptance of other writers who go down the same road. There is nothing more diverse than the writing community.
Discrimination of LGBT (Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender) community people in the States.
When you Google the definition of Human Rights you find several long winding explanations. What they boil down to, or should boil down to is, the right of being yourself and being accepted as such. I’m not a part of the LGBT community, but I have friends that are, I follow actors, musicians and writers that are. People I respect and admire, people that have a good heart and an open mind. Humans that live as I do, they work, pay taxes, raise families, and often help others out.
When I read about laws being passed to subdue and discriminate those who have a different sexual orientation, I want to resort to violence towards the idiots passing those awful laws. Since the French Revolution liberty, equality and fraternity have been goals we fight for. For freedom of being who we are, of being accepted as who we are as equals, for being part of the large brotherhood of human beings.
What certain states in the USA are doing at the moment, the laws they are passing, are not only discriminating, they are a launching pad for the same mindset Adolf Hitler had. It’s the beginning of the end. What will come next? Any religion that isn’t fitting the mindset will be condemned, then people with handicap or learning disorders, and what then, back to when other colored people were slaves or less?
When I was little, the United States where a synonym for human right movement, for the goal of equality and freedom. Now I look over the border, and see only one thing, the horrors of the past. If we allow laws to pass that set part of our society apart from the rest, if we allow them to be singled out, prosecuted for who they are, what they believe in or their sexual orientation, we might as well start shovelling graves for them.
I was born in Germany, I know how it started with the Jews, everyone who ever was in school or watched history channel know it. Are we willing to let it happen again by staying silent? I will sign any and all petitions against such a thing, will stand up and speak my mind, because I will not let happen what my great parents or their parents allowed to happen. I will not silently stand by and watch when people who are not the perceived norm are being discriminated and persecuted. I know I’m not alone, several celebrities like Bruce Springsteen and Bryan Adams are against those laws as well and standing up. You should to, every voice counts, because when enough people speak up, and stand united against such discrimination, it becomes a force to be reckoned with.
Speak up, say your piece, sign petitions, do what you can before history repeats itself.
Awareness, it’s such a big words nowadays, you find it on every corner, awareness for cancer patient, awareness for domestic abuse, awareness for this or that. I wonder if people actually still know what it means, or if it has become so commonly used that people don’t even notice the meaning anymore. You see people with one awareness symbol or another walking around.
Don’t get me wrong, I admire anyone who supports a cause, I have the utmost respect for every person who wants to raise awareness, only do they really?
I’m afflicted by a little of social anxiety, so unless someone starts the conversation, I usually don’t talk to people. Yet since I published my first book in English, I either forced myself to ignore the wild beating heart in my chest, the constricted lungs and the sweat drenched hands, or manipulated things so people started talking to me. In many of those conversations, things like Nail Patella Syndrome, Dyslexia and Fibromyalgia come up, simply because they are either part of my book, or part of me, or both.
What I noticed in those talks is something that makes me a little sad. Many of the people I talked to either wore or had some sort of awareness symbol hanging, standing, laying around. They say things like, “it must be hard to do what you do with having Fibromyalgia,” or, “it must be hard writing a book when your dyslexic,” or, “it must be hard living with Nail Patella Syndrome.” And it’s nice of those people to say it, but when I ask if they know what those illnesses are, they mostly stare at me blankly. In some situations I was comfortable enough to point at whatever awareness symbol they were showing and asked, “Do you know what that is for?”
They not and say, “sure to raise awareness for (enter illness here).” Then I nod and ask if they know what (enter illness here) is and how it affect the people who have it, only to get the same blank stare.
How can you raise awareness if you are not aware yourself?
At the moment I work on my Bio, which is mostly focused on my Dyslexia. Not that I ignore the other things I have, but my Dyslexia and my Fibro is what is closely connected to my writing, so that’s the focus point, more the Dyslexia part because it’s what I have longer. My Fibro was only the thing that pushed me to work harder on it.
Why do I write it?
I could claim I do it to raise awareness, and that would be partially true. I could say it’s to promote myself, and it would be partially true. I could also say I do it because I’m a success story, and maybe that would be true just as well.
The truth is, I do it, because I can. Yet all those other things are part of it to. Sure I want people to better understand any of those illnesses, want to make them aware of them and how they affect me, what damage they can do to a child, teen or adult. Mostly, I want to share the good the bad and the ugly about being affected by something others can’t see.
In addition to my bio, I write articles for my blog, make signs, and write on Facebook and Google+ whenever I can or share my articles there. Most of it is written not for those who have it, but those who don’t have it. I don’t need to explain the impact of Fibro to someone who has it, but maybe to their children or husband, the neighbor and other people around them. If you see one of my articles, and like it, share it, print it off and hand it to your neighbor, boss, colleague or child to make them better understand. Help them be aware so they can actually help raise awareness.