Monday, June 11, 2012

Monday Musings: The Culture of Writing

As a person, I have worked in diversity and inclusion for a very long time. A lot longer than any paying position on a resume could reflect. However, it does not make me an expert on the subject, especially the legal aspects. What it does make me is a more cultured person, not any better or worse than others.

In our present day world, this cultured aspect of life is becoming more important. This is true especially for those of us who choose to write. No longer are we writing for the local or regional market. It is the global market that looms before us. As such, and this is only my humble opinion, it is my duty to ensure what I write accurately depicts the world as it is. Even if I have created a whole new world, such as in The Butterfly Fields, I still must practice diversity and inclusion in my work. Why? Because the market demands it.

What I know to be diversity extends far beyond race. Diversity is the cultures, traditions, lifestyles, histories, and subcultures of every group of people in the world. I once argued that the homeless population is a subculture of the urban lifestyle. It is part of the fabric which creates the tapestry of the diversity in any city. The same is true for the goths, industrialists, hipsters, generations, etc. We all, in our own right, contribute to the vibrancy of the world. This reality of our times should be reflected in our novels, novellas, short-stories, and essays.

People of all walks of life enjoy reading about themselves in a positive reflection of their reality. People like to be included. If we, as writers, are going to appeal to the mass global market, we must gain a satisfactory knowledge of those with whom we share the world. It is really a no brainer when it comes to modern marketing - of any product or service. If the goal is to expand the market base into the global market, the author, business, or organization must first understand those to whom they wish to sell their product.

In the writing of The Butterfly Fields, I acted with intent to include various words from different cultures in the world. I did this to reflect the cultures of the people in the story. I am not clever enough to create an entirely new language such as Klingon or Elven, but I am clever enough to utilize the translation tools available. I acknowledge that one must be careful when using online translation tools. I also consulted various language dictionaries, and people I know who speak those languages to ensure no unintended faux pas occur.

The Butterfly Fields is primarly written in the English language, however there are Irish and French words sprinkled throughout, with references to Romani and other cultures. My understanding of different cultures of the world has given The Butterfly Fields an authentic cultured flavor that we do not see in the usual novel. Or, do we and we just don't realize it?

As  you read your latest novel pay attention to what makes the characters so rich and vibrant. Is it the descriptiveness of their appearance and mannerisms? Or, is it the underlying culture displayed in the character's history, psyche, current or past circumstances, family life, etc?

Diversity is everywhere.