Jay Lake (jaylake) wrote,
Jay Lake

[personal|writing] On being a public person

One of my most deeply held beliefs has been severely challenged in the past couple of weeks. As regulars of this blog know, I have a strong conviction that the story belongs to the reader. This statement could be generalized to "the words belong the reader", in the sense of blog posts, articles and any other public statements I make.

The recent cultural appropriation furor in the blogosphere has been identified by some observers as originating with this post of mine: [ jlake.com | LiveJournal ]. Since the discussion started, one of the nicer things I've seen said about myself is that I am a "denier of white privilege." I'm not going to bother to link, they're quite easy to find if you want to read them.

On the face of it, suggestions that I am denying white privilege are directly contrary to my plain reading of my own words, as well as to the intentions behind them. But that doesn't matter. Because my words mean what they mean to the reader, with whatever context the reader brings to them.

This is a difficult post to write. I'm trying not to defend myself, for example, from judgments about at me quite at odds with a lifetime of behavior and a published paper trail running toward a million words. Because the people who read that post don't know me, don't know my fiction, haven't been following my blog for years.

All they can judge me by is the words they see.

And that is the peril of being a public person. My words speak for themselves. If I craft them ineffectively, or they fail in context for a reader, that is the risk the words take, and that is the risk I take through the words.

What I've learned these past two weeks is that I've never much minded being taken to task for my fiction, but being taken to task for my personal beliefs can be very painful indeed. What I've also realized, again, is that such criticism cannot be allowed to stop me.

Originally published at jlake.com.

Tags: personal, writing

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