Wednesday, May 4, 2016

To Write a Story That May Be Offensive, or Not To Write It: That Is The Question.


It's time for another installment for the Insecure Writer's Group, hosted by Alex J. Cavannaugh.  If you'd like to learn more about this fantastic group, please click on the aforementioned link.

The controversy surrounding J.K. Rowling's depiction of marginalized cultures in her latest book made me nervous.  I haven't read the story, so I can't say whether the contents are offensive to Native Americans. However, given her reputation as a writer, I doubt she'd purposely insult an entire culture. Unfortunately, in this case, her intentions don't matter. At the end of the day,  her works do--works that had an unintended effect.

This brings me to the reason I'm feeling nervous. I'm in the throws of writing a YA Fantasy, set on the Indian reservation in Lame Deer, Montana.  My MC is Native American, as are 99-percent of the characters. After living in Oklahoma for several years (a state with strong Native American ties), I always wanted to write a story based on the culture. I'm also a big fan of the Longmire series, which only fueled my fire to write the book.

Now, I wonder if I should abandon the project and go to something else. I'm insecure that no matter how respectful I am toward the culture, how much I try to promote awareness about issues confronting many Native Americans today, it may still offend someone.

Maybe I'm putting the horse before the carriage, because my novel may never be published. On the small chance it is, I'm feeling wary.  A friend of mine advised me to write the story I want to write and let the chips fall where they may. I shouldn't hold back out of fear of offending someone. Ultimately, that could happen regardless of what I write. I mostly agree with that advice, but on the other hand, I'd hate to be known (if I was published) as "That writer who used folklore from a marginalized culture to progress her career."   I'm just not sure what to do.  Any suggestions?  Until next time my friends, happy writing.

P.S.  Sorry the writing in this post isn't my best.  I composed it from my IPhone.