Two weeks ago, I attended Nerdcon: Stories. It's a conference that explores the importance of stories. From books to movies to podcasts, with panels about "how to write straight characters" to "moral responsibility of a storyteller" to "how to adapt your story into a new medium." This conference is a creative retreat and I needed it.
The first time I walked away from Nerdcon Stories, I was inspired to go out and write everything in my head. This year, I was inspired to go grab a million different books. I realized there was a lot that I was missing about the world. I have been caught up in my own point-of-view. I'm planning on spending the next few months focusing on exposing myself to new cultures and stories. As I explore, I plan to share them with you. But since I'm still pretty new to this goal, I figured I'd share some of the inspirational people at this conference.
One of the best things about this conference is that they have a podcast and a youtube page so you can see some of their content. As of me writing this, only content of 2015 is up. 2016 should be showing up soon, but 2015 had some amazing insights.
Nalo Hopkinson is a science fiction writer. She spoke a lot about diversity and discrimination. On my first panel, she talked about how science fiction was a way to escape the troubles of growing up in Jamaica and moving to America. All of the authors were white males. By seeing just one black writer, she was inspired and jumped into the science fiction industry. I just started one of her books, and it has my full attention right now If you read nothing else, just read her preface in Falling In Love With Hominids. It's inspiring http://nalohopkinson.com/
Cindy Pon blew me away with some of her candid stories about publishing. She published a book with an Asian main character. When she went to publish a second one, she was told "We already filled our quota for Asian characters. Can you write us a white character?" That was something that blew my mind. How could anyone be so blantently racist? The more she talked, the more I realized that I have very little exposure to Asian characters. She's inspired me to seek out a whole new part of the world! http://www.cindypon.com/
Mikki Kendall is who I wish I was as a person. She was outspoken, honest, and intelligent. She read a piece about how to write a woman. It was sarcastic and beautiful. You can find it on her website. She inspired me not to just fight to tell new stories, but to be honest about my characters and their experiences. Also, she's an amazing twitter writer. Go follow her. The more she spoke, the more I wanted to sit her down with Hollywood - as a whole- to make it clear that everyone was on the same page on diversity.
The reason I'm writing this is a reminder to myself that it's one thing to want to include diversity, but if you don't put yourself out there, don't go searching for the stories, then you're never going to find them. It's one thing to cheer for it, but it's another to seek it out.