“Racism Is A Distraction”: Writing During Ferguson

This is a deadline week for me. I have to get the developmental edits for the first novel in my postapocalyptic series back to the editor by the end of the weekend. I have a full-time job, my birthday was this week, and my husband was here until just a couple of days ago, so time was short. But you know what cut into my editing time the most? The scenes straight from a dystopian book that have played out on my computer (I emphasize computer because mainstream media has had crap coverage) of the events in Ferguson. Having to monitor a police coup in my own country seriously cut into time that could have been spent developing dialogue. Watching officers point military grade weapons at peacefully protesting civilians made it hard to focus on fleshing out the relationship between two friends. Being unable to amp up the heat in a sex scene because I was too angry that some people believe that being shot in the street like an animal is good enough for people who look like me? That really sucks. Not to be trite, but institutional racism is fucking with my writing mojo.

Last month, some rare recordings of Toni Morrison speeches at Portland State University were unearthed. This is the snippet that has come to mind for me all week:


The events of this week are much more important than a writer falling behind in her edits. But these events aren’t that unusual. They’ve gone on for hundreds of years. I can’t help but think that hundreds of years of distractions takes a toll.


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