Avi was on campus and gave a talk about his writing. He started by reading the opening pages of a work-in-progress:
|Photo credit: Billy Hinshaw|
He then invited those in attendance to ask him anything. No holds barred. Professor Sarah Park Dahlen asked him about his thoughts on the We Need Diverse Books campaign. He started by saying he supports the campaign, and that he thinks any writer can write about anything they want to, but followed by talking about the writer's responsibility to do the research necessary to do justice to the people they're writing about... and how it is very hard to do that research. Doing it well is time consuming. I chimed in about resources people use -- how they're faulty, and he said that writer's have to find people they can trust.
At one point he talked about what Native people are willing to share and that there are things people might want to know about his family, and that he'd say "It's none of your business!"
I liked that comment. That's what a lot of Native people say, but far too many not-Native writers persist in "gotta tell their stories" ways of thinking. If we don't want to share it, it is because, to quote Avi, we think it is "None of your business."
I gotta run (I'm due at AWP) but may come back to this post later. There was much more said in the room that I'd like to share.