The Great Pause and Writers of Color

I’ll be honest with you all. I’m decimated by this Great Pause and how it will affect writers and specifically writers of color. Just when it seemed like we were gaining traction in certain circles–the publishing world seemed to finally be listening to Latinx writers and their criticisms of AMERICAN DIRT and #ownvoices contracts seemed to be flourishing. Young friends were getting streaming deals for their diverse content. The African American mystery writer, Barbara Neely, whose novels made me feel less alone, was chosen to be feted at the Edgar Awards.

Now we have to take some steps back. Okay, Naomi, don’t be so dark. I know my family are fighters–damn, we survived a nuclear holocaust, so we got this, right?

A part of me just wants to be more passive and “realistic” and continue to look at my projected income and expenses in the next few years and cross out some numbers. I still am going to do that in anticipation of a worst-case scenario but it occurred to me this morning that I have also consider a best-case scenario. A scenario in which we fight this force with ingenuity and optimism.

This is going to require all the smarts, skills, creativity and camaraderie we can muster. If we are complacent and think that life will be restored exactly how we left it pre-coronavirus, we will most likely be battered by the killer wave that’s coming for us. There’s no doubt that we need to do something different.

On Sunday I participated in a virtual Potluck and Poetry reading on the video conference platform Zoom, organized by Scott Oshima, Sustainable Little Tokyo Program director. In this session in which we were eating our individual meals in different locations, I was exposed to the literature and concerns of Tongvans who are native to Southern California. For a couple of hours, I was transported to a world that I didn’t know but should know.

Frankly I was skeptical of what an online exchange could do for me, but you know what, it was actually sustaining. Nothing will beat a face-to-face meeting, but the use of this technology is an alternative that has possibilities.

Come back here and look for new ideas that we need to employ. If you want to contribute a blog post, let me know at bachi@naomihirahara.com.

Here a debut writer shares what she’s doing to launch her book “in the middle of a global pandemic”:

Launching a Debut Novel in Middle of a Global Pandemic

6 thoughts on “The Great Pause and Writers of Color

  1. A good article, Naomi. I’m glad you were able to be positive too. I love your line about your family surviving the bomb holocaust. You are tough stuff. Actually we never could depend on earnings and costs or complications in ANY field. The Bible says, we can make plans to go and do such and such, but we should say, “if the Lord wills.” You will be fine in the “bounce-back.”

  2. WriteNow! Writers of Color had our first virtual workshop last Saturday, organized by Shiz Seigel. It was great with eight participants. Coming next week will be one-to-one round robin exercises…this will be our format for the foreseeable future…glad to see it happening down your way as well. Zoom is a great for this, just beware of the latest nuisance, “Zoom bombers” who crash meetings. Not sure how to prevent that, but whoever sets up your meetings probably can put up some kind of filtering system. Be safe, greetings to all in SoCal.

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