Since Friday, I have been called a liar over how some people say foal like fowl/foul. To open up, thank you to those of you who say it this way who stepped up to confirm it’s a real accent. You’re appreciated.
I first heard it in Tennessee, where I lived for six or so months out of every year during my childhood after my parents divorced. I didn’t think much of it when the first person messaged me asking. I just confirmed that it was the accent used, confirmed the region it originated in, with someone who lived there, and moved on.
Diversity is a good thing.
I caved and had it changed because of how many messages I got, in my personal account (please stop doing that, seriously… I’ve generally been fine if you wanted to drop into my personal account and say something nice, but that venue is NOT for your complaints. I have a typo/correction form and a contact form for your other complaints. Please use that.)
Audible should have the book updated within the next twenty or so days, because that’s how long Audible takes. Findaway is broken again, and it may have to be taken completely off sale and then redistributed, so it might be longer.
I like including people not like me in my books. That my narrator(s) are able to include accents that are from people NOT JUST LIKE ME is a good thing. That I had to erase one of these elements really, really upsets me.
Because essentially, it was erased due to racism.
When you can’t accept something that isn’t just like you, that’s a symptom of racism. If you prefer the term prejudice, use that, but when it’s something like “this is how someone sounds because they were raised in a specific region of the world”, I lump that with racism as a general rule. (And no, I don’t care if I’m right or wrong on the terminology at this stage.)
What matters is this: I caved to racism this weekend, and that disgusts me on such a deep level that I wanted to just stop writing and go find another line of work.
*IF* I had any applicable skills, I may have just done that. I don’t, though.
I’m angry, I’m hurt, and I’m feeling, frankly, terrible for those who DO have that accent and got to hear it present in a performance art.
It’s no different from someone in the LGBT+ community being excited that there was a healthy polyamorous couple (and this is going to be interpreted in numerous ways, so I mean any coupling, be it two, five, ten, etc people, not as in couple as restricted to two people, although you CAN have a polyamorous couple that invites more people into their family unit) in a novel, or someone of mixed-Asian descent being the star of a novel, or a person of color being a prominent character without being the token person of color.
Language is a core of who we are. That’s why I use so many regionalism. That’s why I literally SEEK THEM OUT when I’m writing a book so I can add them.
Every time I do that, it’s a love letter to the person I’m including. “I see you.”
A bunch of people, who can’t accept things that are different from them, essentially robbed me of being able to do that for a group of people.
This really, really upsets me.
I hate myself right now because I caved.
Because you know, I need to pay the rent, I need to be able to pay for the future audiobooks that I do SOLELY because of accessibility. (I can’t listen to audiobooks because I have an anxiety auditory processing disorder; audiobooks trigger deep and intense anxiety that my medications cannot beat.)
I do them to be accessible.
So, yes, this weekend, I really thought about just canceling all my preorders and walking, because this is not where I want to be. This is not what I want to be doing. And there are going to be people who want me to sit down and shut up, because it ruins “the books” for them when I’m upset and not an endless fount of positivity.
I am human, and I value other humans. That people view accents as mistakes, things to be erased because it’s not just like them… this is so shameful.
Accents are not unnecessary, nor are the people who speak with those accents.
Accents. Are. Not. Unnecessary. Nor. Are. The. People. Who. Speak. With. Those. Accents.
We’ve been here before about how regional groups drop “to be.” And how the inclusion of “to be” is often a sign of an affluent upbringing. How I’ve been reviewed negatively because I grew up poor as dirt so I dropped to be because that was how I was taught.
Do I use to be now? Unfortunately, more than I like. Because caving is easier than explaining to someone why they were taught “to be” was so important. (Hint: it’s status and wealth. You’re ‘better educated’ and ‘better than those other people.’)
I still, when writing about a character who isn’t from an affluent community, remember to drop the to bes.
Because that represents them, accurately.
These things are not unnecessary. Including people, how they speak, and their accents is necessary, because it is life, and life isn’t all pretty, and we aren’t all just like the next person. Nor should we be.
I am angry, I am unhappy, and I am tired of being told I should be positive to the point of toxicity, because what about the comfort of my readers?
If something in all of my books ISN’T making you uncomfortable, you haven’t been paying attention, because I include life in my books… and that means going places that are uncomfortable.
Accents are not unnecessary. Everyone should be able to pick up (or listen) to a book and hear (or read) when something is about them.
I’m going to finish all the books I’ve promised, but I am so tired of the hate, the prejudices, and the snide commentary, especially when it infiltrates even my private/personal family accounts.
I will lose readers over this, and I’m fine with that.
I’m not fine with what has transpired since Friday. I’m not fine with being told I am a liar when I confirmed what I thought about the accent, learned my proofer had grown up in an area using that accent, and told everyone so there was an understanding of why something wasn’t as expected.
I was told I was a liar.
Because I confirmed how that accenting came to be.
I was told a liar for being honest about why a word was spoken as it was. Mistakes happen.
This was not a mistake. This was representation I was forced to change.
I’m not fine, and I refuse to lie to you and claim that I am.
I worked this weekend to appease racism, and I will never be okay with that. And yes, when you can’t accept an accent or something that is a part of another human, solely because it is not what you are used to, that is the heart and soul of racism.
I am still thinking about quitting, because this is NOT where I want to be. But I love to write, and I love to write for those who find an escape in my books.
But this is not where I want to be.
I catered to fucking racism this weekend, and I hate myself for this more than you can ever know.