aprilhenry (aprilhenry) wrote,

Who Is Allowed to Write a Story?

I have long struggled with who could or should write a story. My default character usually shares some characteristics with me – white, Protestant, and female. I have written from a boy’s POV, and a man’s, but usually for only a portion of a book. In one unpublished book, the only POV character was a man. It had to be a man, because I wanted the character to be a parent who didn’t know what happened to their child, and unless the mom gives the baby up for adoption, that has to be a man.

I think it’s good for books to be multicultural – not filled just with white, Protestant females.

I think it’s fine to write from the POV of an alien, or a person living in 1685. There aren’t any real people you are supplanting who might want to tell that story because they own it.

What is difficult for me, I guess, is knowing when it’s okay to tell someone else’s story, a contemporary story. I remember meeting a woman, white, blond, blue-eyed, who sold film rights on a script she had written that was set on a reservation. I’m pretty sure her only experience with what it means to be Native American was through reading. That made me uncomfortable. Sure, she was using her imagination the way every writer does. But it also seemed like she had really glommed onto the spiritual side of being Native American – and is that something you can really understand and write about if you haven’t grown up with it, haven’t experienced it for yourself?

What do you think?

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Tags: the rez, who owns it

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