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Showing posts with the label stereotypes

What You See Is What You Expect

We "get" what we're told, shown, and subjected to over our lives, but in the best of times, changes come along that make us think. Thinking is good. When I was a kid in the '50s, it was perfectly okay for my school to put on a Minstrel Show, where kids in blackface acted (usually overacted) their perceptions of black people. Few in our rural area had met anyone unlike ourselves, and I recall watching as older kids had a great time shucking, jiving, and acting stupid--the way they perceived black folks. My mom was once given a box of books, and being an inveterate reader, I worked my way through them. One was a joke book, and I enjoyed the anecdotes about Goldfarb, Wisenstein, and other city dwellers with odd names. They were all self-absorbed, bossy, and overly concerned with money. It wasn't until years later I realized the characters in those "jokes" were all Jews, and the laughs were meant to come from the assumption that all Jews were conniving c

Plain Talk For Writers: A Sense of Place

No, I'm not talking about book settings, though they're important and wonderful when done well. I'm talking about YOUR place in the world of writing. If you're published, you probably already have an idea of where you fit, and it probably bothers you a little that it isn't where you'd like to be or where you thought you'd be. If you're not yet published, you should spend some time thinking about where you will fit in once you show your work to the world. Before publication, many writers have an inflated idea of the importance of their work. I'm approached all the time at book signings by people who claim they have the next bestseller in mind or in progress. The fact that they tell me about it is a hint that they don't know the process at all. There's hope in their eyes, a fantasy scenario where I grab them by the arm and say, "Wow! I need to tell my agent right away about your completely awesome idea." Well, I won't. In