Friday, February 25, 2011

Historical accuracy vs. political correctness

In one of the writer's groups I belong to, we've recently had a discussion about historical accuracy versus political correctness when trying to portray the antebellum South. It's been quite interesting and very eye-opening to learn just how many editors are out there who think political correctness should trump historical accuracy.

This bothers me. A lot. My family has lived in the South for over 200 years. My family roots go all the way back to the Mayflower. And yes, members of my family owned slaves. But they were greatly outnumbered by the tenant farmers and share-croppers in my family tree.

I think the whole hullabaloo with Huckleberry Finn and The Adventures of Tom Sawyer illustrates this very thing that we, as a society, are grappling with. I also think it's a giant neon red DANGER sign that political correctness is going too far.

Rewriting history to make it "less offensive" serves no one. If we white-wash the past, how can future generations learn from it?

Yes slavery and racism was a very real problem in the South. Racism still is. But guess what? Slavery and racism have existed since the dawn of time, and neither will go away until Jesus returns. How does removing it from history make it any less of a problem?

The job of a historical novelist is not to rewrite the past. It is to paint it with the truest colors possible while not offending, so that people can learn from it and not repeat those mistakes. My current novel WIP deals with slavery, in a rather blatant manner. It's crucial to the plot. There is a character who uses "the N word"( and I don't mean the one that ends with "o"), because that's the kind of person of he is. He doesn't see his slaves as human beings. People like that really existed and we shouldn't ignore it.

If we start changing Mark Twain's written words, who's next? Will we sanitize other pieces of great literature that have "offensive" things in them? Will we go after The Picture of Dorian Gray because it might offend old people? What about Poe, or Dickens? Will they be safe?

This is a very dangerous path to tread. As a historical writer, I find it very disturbing.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Great is Thy Faithfulness

I've been reminded over the last few days how God never abandons His children. When you're in the middle of a storm it's so easy to lose sight of His hand cupped around you, shielding you from the dangers. I get so caught up in just keeping my head above water that I forget I don't have to do it on my own.

My words disappeared at the end of November, 2009. After two new personal best word counts, the week of Thanksgiving is where my life really turned upside down. I moved halfway across the country and the man I thought I knew turned out to be a lie. I was shattered and broken.

There were a few trickles here and there over the last year, but nothing consistent. Nothing really worth keeping. It took me a year to add 8,000 words to my WIP. It was torture! The desire to write would peak its head out every now and then, but it never translated into actual words.

I'd been living in a desert and forgotten how sweet it is to have the words and plot points and ideas flowing freely.

Well, the desert is being watered, the dam has broken and MY WORDS ARE BACK! It all happened last week. I'm at my Mimi's house, helping her out after surgery on her broken leg. I came up here hoping I'd get some good writing in. I would have been happy with 2,000 words.

God had other ideas. I've added 4,000 words to The Yellow Flag since Thursday. I haven't tracked the daily word counts to see which day was the most productive, but it doesn't really matter. The word count is climbing steadily again, the sub-lots are focused, all necessary characters are talking, the set-up for the sequels is being built in, and I'm having the time of my life!

Look out, world, here I come!