Saturday, September 5, 2015

to this bitch who was talking about Halsey in the press the other day, Maggie what's good?

Warning: I have totally reverted to my fifteen year old self in this post, as you can tell by the title. I'm angry and pissed off, and will probably regret this later. Proceed with caution. 

The publishing industry, like many other industries, is filled with white saviors. Basically, we knew this already, but I was sadly reminded of it when I woke up this morning and saw that Maggie Stiefvater wrote something about why she accepted an invitation to sit on a panel about the "other."

I'm honestly so appalled that I'm not even sure what to say. First of all, the fact that she mentioned something about "unpopular" races is just...I can't. That alone is full of white privilege. So basically, all other races are boring until a white person writes about us. Right?

I have no idea how this woman has not experienced racism or anything else that comes with being a racial minority, but presumes to sit on a panel and "educate" about it. Bullshit.

Second, she said that, even though she doesn't know what she's talking about, she's qualified to sit on the panel. Right. Because, you know, there has to be a token white author up there to validate everyone else's words. That's what she basically is saying, right?

Also, this is just a bunch of issues with the publishing industry in general. Publishing seems to be this super white industry, even though there are campaigns to get more diversity. The thing is, though, now that there is a call for diversity, white people (and other majorities) think it means that they can make a lot of money/get a lot of recognition if they write diverse characters. 

(Sort of like how cis actors like Eddie Redmayne portray trans characters because of the recognition they hope to get, but I digress.)

Look, sometimes white people write good characters of color. But the idea is that we don't want them writing all of them. We want to write our own stories. And, since YA has this weird thing where they fixate on about five authors for ten years at a time, I have a feeling this is what will happen:

Say John Green decides to write a book about a black kid. The kid is well written, I guess, but there are black authors writing black kids from their actual experience. John Green gets film adaptations and awards and NYT spots. 

Black authors sometimes don't even get agents. 

And, since publishing (like a lot of entertainment industries) is still ruled by mostly white people, there's this weird...thing where people of color can't talk about these things. We can't bring them up or call people out. Because then we might look like "trouble to work with." I've seen black authors who are just painted as angry all of the time.

People have told me that you have to be this approachable butterfly for white people to pay attention to you. Even if your writing is good, you have to be this docile flower for the right editor to get your book and the right agent and the right author to blurb your book.

It's absolute bullshit, and I don't care if I never get published for saying so. 

But then there was this drama with Halsey. Maggie has basically been making fun of Halsey, a singer who is probably way more qualified to sit on this diversity panel, for a while now. She basically uses her as a weird joke/parody thing, and also made fun of her break up. 

Maggie was like "Ohhhh, I didn't think that you would see so basically it's okay." 

1. It's not fucking okay. 

2. She legit tagged Halsey in the tweets where she made fun of her. Maggie has 67k followers. And tagged Halsey. Rule number one, you don't tag someone if you don't want them to see the tweet. That's like, basic Twitter logic. Two, you have a lot of followers. You're somewhat of a public figure, and didn't think this would be seen? Okay. Sure. 

3. This is partially me being bitter about the John Green Tumblr thing that happened a little while ago, but still. Basically, someone on Tumblr wrote an offensive post about John Green. They didn't think he would see it, because they were a tiny little blog and he is this big author famous person.

But oH NO. He found it and called her out and so did Maggie. She said the fact that this original poster didn't think John would see it wasn't an excuse. She JUMPED on this person about it, and wrote something about all the negativity on social media or whatever.

But, now that Halsey is calling her out, the fact that "Maggie didn't think she was going to see" is valid. Hmm. Now is it because Maggie is a white woman? Because she is the "voice of the youth" or something? 

Or is it just because she's the exception to every rule?



  1. Until about an hour ago, I had never heard of any of the people involved in this situation. Retweets and subtweets bombarded my timeline on Twitter, and I still can't completely figure it out, even with your helpful post.

    I love Twitter but I hate this kind of thing. There's an army of hate in every direction you look.

    To me, Maggie comes off childish, very childish, but not as bad as people are making her out to be. Your quote above about her, "First of all, the fact that she mentioned something about "unpopular" races is just...I can't." , is taken from her repeating what the publishers told her, not her thoughts on the matter.

    Her quote, "As I’ve noted before, I’ve done a shitty job with it, for a lot of reasons, some my fault, some from the establishment telling me not to write about “unpopular” races."

    The post also states the panel was about writing the "other", which is a broad term. She claims to write about mental illness, that's very "other".

    I don't know why I'm writing this. I'm probably missing some important element, but it's hard to watch the full force of the internet come down on anybody. Social media is not a game for the squeamish.

    Thanks for your post. It cleared up a lot of my confusion from trying to decipher the issue via the tweets.

    Ending on a good note: I now love the music of Halsey.

  2. Camryn, even when you think you are writing like a 15-year-old, you write like an adult. :) You are showing the world how awesome teen writers can be!

    And it's an excellent post. Thank you for sharing your thoughts on this.

    I would like to quietly point out that within my (regrettably all-white) critique group, we are all hard at work putting PoC and other under-represented people into our stories. Not for fame, not for money (we are all lightyears from that dream), but because we don't like to see anyone excluded from the books that they read, and because none of us want our own white kids from getting the idiotic notion from their books that white is or should be the norm. We want to show the world as it is and as it could be.

    Keep up the great work Camryn! You are inspirational.

  3. Firstly, your 15yo-self is smart as hell, so revert away!!!

    Camryn, I struggle to put the feelings in my heart into words (which does not bode well for a writer....O_O) so I'm rubbish at bringing intelligent conversation into this comment, I think... but I will say that I'm SO glad you're voicing your insights, because, what the comments above me has already expressed, you're an inspiration. <3

    I must say that it feels so weird to me that the inclusion of PoC characters in fiction, in the agent world, publishing world-- in ANY part of our current lives - is even a thing to discuss, other than that diversity is a no-brainer. I grew up in a diverse area of CA, though, and in the late-80's & 90's, there weren't token anybodies, just a melting pot of people.

    I've since moved to a whole 'nother state, in west TX, no less, and my eyes have been opened to the bigotry and narrow-mindedness I never saw growing up (raising my kids here hurts my heart). You are absolutely right that "token white author" bestsellers just do not fit on a racial-diversity themed panel. I myself am as white as white can be, and having PoC in my stories just makes sense to me, because, hello, real life features people of all sorts of colors. But for a specific panel on diversity in fiction to have that discussion, unless she's talking about how difficult it is for a white privileged person to accurately represent PoC and then sitting back to listen to what the rest of the panel has to say - because THAT is what matters - you're 1000% right, she's a very wrong fit.

    I do honestly feel like she knows she's a wrong fit for this particular panel. And that the pressures above her, the ones that give her the paycheck to feed her family, are putting this on her, and she *wants* to do the topic justice, as best she can, and will strive to do her best in this kind of panel. Time, of course, will tell. I've seen her speak in person and she seemed so. much. smarter. and insightful, and caring of all people, than she appears on twitter (especially today--today was... yikes). Sometimes I think Twitter brings out the best side of people. And sometimes I think it can bring out the worst. And then there's me, all, I LOVE FRENCH FRIES! and that's about as deep as I get...

    As for the Halsey/Maggie train wreck... that was horrific. Maggie was so wrong to tweet as she did, imo, and Halsey had so much grace, through it. I don't think I would have had that same grace. And while I'm not thrilled with the way I discovered Halsey's music today... I'm happy to now have new tunes to listen to on repeat, that I'd never heard before. Wheeeee. <3

    You, though? Don't be afraid of the haters. You give voice to people who need it, and share smart insights with the people who need to listen, and you do it all so eloquently.

  4. omg, that comment was so not novel-sized in the tiny box as I was typing it, I swear. O_o Someone must have thrown water on it, and it grew - somewhere between typing and pressing publish....