One thing that is screwy about writing is that you have to learn to hear “no” a lot and you have to keep persisting. (I guess interesting things could be written about this and rape culture, not that I’ve phrased it this way, but I’m not talking about that.)

I think, though, that a lot of under-represented groups in publishing have been socialized for our own safety to pick up on subtle cues about where we don’t belong and where we might be unsafe. A “no” is a stop sign. It means, “holy shit, do not proceed. For your own safety, do not proceed.”

So, I wonder how–especially when it’s really not safe to proceed, when the culture is racist, when the editors treat fat women writers like an impossible anomaly, when it feels like you have to be in New York to get anywhere, etc. etc–you work up the nerve to proceed.

Obviously, some do. But I wonder what kinds of stories we’re missing out on because others are like “Hey, that sign said ‘do not enter.’ Okay, I will not enter.”

One thought on “No

  1. (1) This makes so much sense. I’m certain it’s a big part of why all the advice that boils down to “act more like thin white currently-abled well-off cis men to get what you want” is useless. How am I suddenly supposed to figure out when “No” means “We’re looking for persistence” vs. when “No” means “Danger lies that way”? I haven’t been raised to think that is a safe way to behave.

    (2) Yeah, there is something about rape culture there. Why do some grow up thinking EVERY no means “try harder” and others grow up thinking almost every no means “warning”, instead of everyone getting “no means no, but in some cases such as art or business ‘try again’ is acceptable; it depends on context” but actually most of those “try harder” guys DO understand soft nos and context and ARRRRRGHH.

    (3) Right now the top of your page reads “Is there anything funnier than tiny cat pants? No” thanks to this post and that makes me smile.

    (4) Today I’m here from Shakesville, but I think I’ve been here before? Anyway, I like it. Writing about writing is important to me.

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