Saturday, May 27, 2006
My panel on Both/And in an Either/Or world was last night. It went realy well. The room was packed (what do you expect with Ursula LeGuin on the panel?) and the audience was just super. A lot of insightful comments and questions.

One thing I found very interesting was the question of how do you present people who may be beyond the common notions or experience and still reach your audience. If your story is too far from mainstream perceptions will people just put it down saying, "I'm not interested in stories about...(insert topic)", or will they say, "Boy! I've never read about that kind of person, how interesting." Is it better to drop the reader right into the middle of the scenario, or sort of ease them into it, sneaking in your stereotype shattering stuff after they are already hooked. We didn't come up with a definitive answer -- after all, it depends a bit on who your character is and who your story is about and who your audience is, and what you are trying to do with the story.

Some of the things we did agree on -- there is the definite danger of being ghettoized if you are dealing with certain topics -- gay characters, or latino characters, for instance. There is the chance that you will be told you have to change the story if your main character is a Muslim named John (or Pamela!). Or that the audience will not react to this story as realistic enough.

The usual objections that you should be true to your art and not worry about the audience or selling the work were raised, and Ursula replied that a book is not just the author writing, it is the author writing for the reader, that the book, ultimately, is created by the two of them together, so you have to write so that you are accessible to your reader. I have to say, I agree completely with her (sorry James Joyce...).
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Location: Cincinnati, Ohio, United States

Progressive Muslim, feminist, mom, writer, mystic, lover of the universe and Doug Schmidt, cellist, theologian and imam.

What I'm reading now

Cane River
An interesting exploration of the gradual whiting of a family through slavery to modern days.

To see an archive of all the books I've read (well the ones I've read and review since I started the blog) with comments, please click here

Causes Worth Supporting

This is just a short list -- a few of my favorites.

English Language Islamic Fiction. We need more of it. Lots more.
Pay a Teacher's Salary in Afghanistan. The Hunger site actually has a lot of worthwhile programs. You can find them all here .
Muslims for Progressive Values. My organization. We can always use donations, of time or money!
Human Rights Campaign for the glbt community
National Religious Campaign Against Torture
The ACLU I'm a card carrying member. Hope you'll become one too. The organization that has done the most, as far as I can tell, to pull the countries progressive side together.
Network of Spiritual Progressives. Working to reclaim religion and morality for the religious left.

Blogs Worth Reading

Wanda Campbell also known as Nochipa A very gifted poet and a gentle, compassionate soul. Nochipa and I are on the same page on sooooo many things
Writeous Sister Aminah Hernandez, she's got some excellent latino pieces and always has good writing info on her blog.
Sister Scorpion aka Leila Montour - Leila is a fount of energy, quirky humor, and bad attitude. She's also a talented poet.
Muhajabah Very interesting commentary here. I don't always agree with her, but her pieces are always thought-provoking.
Georgie Dowdell Georgie is a great writer and a good friend.
Louise Marley Another great writer. I think Louise is one of the best sf writers exploring faith themes.
Ink in My Coffee Devon Ellington (who has numerous aliases) who is also the editor of Circadian Poems. A truly inspiring woman with a seemingly endless supply of energy.
Ethnically Incorrect With a name like that, isn't a given I'm going to enjoy this writer?
Freedom from the Mundane Colin Galbraith, another excellent writer, from Scotland.
The Scruffy Dog Review This is a new e-zine with an ecclectic mix of fiction, poetry, and non-fic, some really enjoyable pieces here.
Ramblings of a Suburban Soccer Mom Lara, another gentle soul, very thoughtful.
Circadian Poems A journal of poetry, new stuff up all the time.
Ye Olde Inkwell Michelle writes romance and is one of my writing buddies.
Muhammad Michael Knight The original punk Muslim writer. Like him or love him, Mike is always coming up with the unexpected.

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