Monday, June 22, 2015

Ready Set Write update ...and dealing with life after Charleston.

This is going to be a longer-than-usual Ready-Set-Write post because: Charleston.

This week, you guys, this week. It started out with trivial problems. Big in my world at the time, but now they seem trivial. First, there was a miscommunication with my babysitter and so I didn't get the baby-free hours I usually do during the week. On top of that LO got sick and started waking every 30 minutes through the night again. Then I got sick.

And then Charleston.

Charleston hit me hard. I sat there, staring at the computer, little guy finally in bed, and saw the reports coming in on twitter. It was my time to write, but I couldn't write. I tried. I just couldn't.

I live in Sydney, but I'm from the U.S. and the fact that America continues to be a country that can produce people filled with such racist hate ... it makes my heart hurt.

This has to stop.

So instead of writing this weekend, I just started reading. Everything I could find about how we can possibly respond to this sort of thing. And I still don't have any real answers. But I'm starting to see the shape of a few things I (as a white, US expat, writer/reader) can do to educate myself and others about diversity and empathy, and to support authors of color. I'll try to post about that soon. In the meantime, here are some links to the highlights of what I read:

7 Ways to be a White Ally for Charleston and the Black Community || Why it's so Hard to Talk to White People about Racism || Institutional Racism in the Publishing Industry || WNDB Summer Reading Series || Charleston -- Another example of why We Need Diverse Books || Blavity

Okay. Well obviously that's weighing heavy on my mind.
However, I still need to give you my Ready Set Write Update, so here it is:

How I did on my goals: 
Okay. Surprisingly I finished most of them. That's good.

Finish edits of Chapters 6-11 of YA sci-fi: Check 

Read one fun book: Sorta Check  This summer, I'd been meaning to catch up on a bunch of classic sci-fi reads. But Charleston made me re-think my priorities. 

After getting partway through Larry Niven's Ringworld, I decided to stop and re-dedicate my summer to reading books written by black authors. So now I'm about a third of the way through The Galaxy Game by Karen Lord. It's really good. 

Check out my review of my friend Natalie's super fun MG Fantasy Mia's Optiscope here! It's set in Sydney (where I live) and is just so imaginative and also a sneakily fun way to learn about the history and natural history of the area! 

Complete two beta reads: Check ✔ 

Start New Research Book: Check   
I've been working through several handbooks on beekeeping to see if I can glean some more tidbits for my cyborg beekeeper story

Plan edits for Chapters 12-18 of YA sci-fi: Sorta Check   *sorta: I've decided to cut a few of these chapters, and now am in the midst of a big decision to perhaps move scenes from chapters 2-4 into this portion of the book instead. But I'm kinda waiting to see what my agent thinks about this. So.... the waiting game. 

Goals for Week 3:

Write new transition scenes and new action scene to add to finale
Finish reading The Galaxy Games, start another book by an author of color.
Write a blog post.
Maybe integrate old scenes into new section (if agent okays it)
Get well.

A favorite line from my story OR a word/phrase that sums up what I wrote/revised:

"Amelia?” I said, but there was only silence. 
The screen of my handheld shone with the default 
white-on-gray text: ASTERIS OFFLINE."

This is one of the new lines from my editing, and it also I guess hints at how I felt this week. Disconnected, confused, offline. Sad. Angry.

The biggest challenge I faced this week:

Lack of sleep. Illness. Feeling ill equipped to deal with Charleston and America's ongoing racism problem as a reader/writer/person. Yes my MC is a POC, yes my story touches on the idea of prejudice. But I need to dig deeper. Do better. Take a hard look at the authenticity of her voice and the helpfulness of her story.

Something I love about my WIP:
My secret weapon is that I kinda love editing. Love adding in new layers and tightening up old ones. And I really love my new scenes. :)

Want to know more about Ready, Set, Write? Check out the blogs of our lovely hosts: Jaime MorrowKaty UppermanErin FunkElodie Nowodazkij, and Alison Miller.


What do you guys think about Charleston? I feel so lost. What is a proper response to Charleston? How do we even begin to fix this?


  1. The issues with racism are so complex. I really don't think there's a solution that's going to be drawn from a magical hat. It's a matter of each family taking the time to train up their sons and daughters on love and diversity. We spent two years living in Rwanda, and I loved that skin color was a non-issue out there. It took my boys a full year to even notice that their skin color was different than their classmates. Hopefully someday America will find that healthy balance. In the mean time, enjoy your reading. =) And I hope you get some writing in!

  2. Every time I see intentional suffering because of color or gender or any perceived social-status... it hurts. It hurts more than it seems like it should.

    So I understand your feelings about Charleston. And you're right. Why, in this day and age. after so many people have risked their lives for the right to be treated like fellow human beings, do we see so much of this... this crap happening? Again!

    Do we ever learn from history?

    Do we ever just look at ourselves and consider what we're doing?

    A good list of links. I'll be checking some of the one's I hadn't seen. That said, just because your character is a POC, doesn't mean (at least in my limited world-view) that your character should necessarily be a "true to all POCs" character. Your MC should be an individual. Because a stereotype is little better than a caricature.

  3. You did really well meeting your goals this week, Carissa! I'm very impressed with how much you accomplished since your last post. Hope this week is equally productive! :-)

  4. I had a similar feeling about Charleston: America, you are breaking my heart.

    It feels like it is literally being torn to pieces.

    Why are people like this? How can it be that we fight against racism for decades or even centuries and it's still there? What can we do to change it? What can I do? I wish I had answers. Mostly, I only have questions, and I'm trying to read and learn. Thank you for the links.

  5. What a horrible, sad situation. I'm Canadian, so I'm kind of on the outside looking in with the events in Charleston, but when something like this happens it doesn't matter where you're from. It's still disheartening to see and hear about such a violent, racist act. I just can't wrap my head around it.

    You did very well on your goals despite having a tough week. Let's hope this coming week is more positive for everyone. :)

  6. I was halfway through writing a rough draft of a personal statement for grad school (I'm thinking of switching from teaching to librarian-ing), and I had to stop and let it sit because I think I need another angle after what happened in Charleston. Being trained as a humanities teacher, I've always insisted that stories matter (both the real ones and the fictional ones). Like, I feel so powerless to do anything, but stories are something I know well and am in a position to spread, I guess? Anyway, that whole theme of books and words and stories having so much potential to open people's minds (and to destroy and be hurtful) is something I want to delve deeper into now, but I just need to figure out how to put words to that.

    Good luck getting through your goals this week!



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