As a writer in the 21st century, you’re often asked to share more of yourself than you’re comfortable with in order to gain readership of your intended work, be it blog posts or novels. The field is so crowded with talent that something has to help you stand out.
When I started my writing journey, I promised myself that privacy was an important aspect of my life and as such there were topics I would never discuss. And yet, there are times I feel compelled to share a little more about me than I have in the past.
I’ve always made plain that I am a woman who writes with a feminist bent and also in the hopes of making room for Latina protagonists. What I rarely discuss is the Afro-Latina experience. My family originates from Puerto Rico, which has a rich history that includes Spanish, African and Taíno ancestry. I comprise all three (according to Ancestry.com) and my appearance often confuses people perhaps due to the combination—especially in the summer when I ditch my “soup can” rollers and opt to let my curly hair “do what it do”.
I rarely make a big deal about the Afro part of my Afro-Latinaness, but it’s nonetheless jarring when I’m having a conversation with someone, also of Latinx background, and they are surprised when I say something in Spanish. It’s understandable, if irksome, when I have to explain myself (a task I’ve had to undertake since I was a small child) to non-Latinx people, but when I have to do it with those who should know better, it stings. It something most Afro-Latinx people contend with on a regular basis.
In the fantasy worlds I create, it’s never a question. My protagonists have to deal with so many other problems—illegal magic, talking to the dead—that I prefer to have the matter of their race/ethnicity as merely fait accompli and get on with whatever mythic mayhem is in store. But real life, though free of magical duels and vengeful spirits, has its own complications.
The job of a good writer is to entertain first and if the writer is lucky, they also find a way to educate. Sometimes it’s the job of the writer to educate first and hope it’s enough to make sharing something personal worth forgoing a little entertainment.
Are you a writer? Is there something you take for granted when you write that might benefit others? Are you a reader? Is there something you wish you saw more of?
On a lighter note, my novella, The Cemetery Circle, is finally available in paperback! Support indie authors!