I want to touch briefly on the topic of narrative choice.
Everything you include or omit in a story is a choice.
Who do you include, who do you exclude in the narrative? Who gets a happy ending? Who dies? What happens to your female characters, your POC characters, your queer and trans and non-binary characters? Why does that happen? Who is centered in this universe you unfold on the page? Who doesn’t exist?
True, not all choices are conscious. Sometimes we don’t know any better. Sometimes we have to fight through years of internalized oppressions and bullshit in order to realize we are allowed to have stories and they are allowed to be happy.
Awareness brings responsibility.
As an author, your words have power. How do you use that power? Whose stories do you show, and why? Whose do you refuse to allow? Why?
There are so many amazing people out there doing hard work to make information accessible. There are so many brave, fearless, passionate, compassionate, fierce, honorable, dedicated people out there willing to share their stories, their lives, their experiences, for others who want to listen, for others who need to hear you are not alone.
You must be willing to learn, to understand, to empathize and accept others’ narratives at face value. This is true. It is not always easy, no.
But as an author, your words show a world that reflects your self. Your stories are full of narrative choices that tell us who you are.
Stories are deeply personal things, and they show us our own hearts. When someone reads your work, they see a little of you. Or maybe a lot. But they will see.
What do you choose to show them?
Not all of it is (for me) conscious at the start. But I make an effort to become conscious of things I missed or didn’t think about. About people and problems and hurt and joy. And this is an evolving process, yes.
When I was a younger!Merc, I wrote stuff that makes me deeply uncomfortable for how sexist and heteroflail and insensitive it was. A lot of this was pure ignorance. I’m a consumer of culture and media, and so much of this shit is internalized, normalized, romanticized in our popular culture and media that you can’t get away from it.
Until I was able to start looking at it critically, interrogating my internalized problems—so many of which are still deeply engrained and slippery and false, and which I have to constantly fight against—I had no idea what I was doing, or the harm I could, and likely did, do. To myself as well as others. And for that, I apologize.
I am trying to do better. Striving to learn, to listen, to understand.
Because I know every story is a series of deliberate narrative choices. What I choose to share, the stories I choose to tell, are not without consequence, or weight, or remembrance.
Stories affect other human beings.
That is power: to touch another’s life, in however small a way. We must be aware of the responsibility that holds.