Emily Duncan: Racism In The Writing Space

Hey guys so I can’t get the podcast to load how I normally do on here but yesterday I released an episode about the Emily Duncan controversy. The main focus of this episode was to discuss diversity and inclusion in the writing space, not to harp on the actions of one person. I wanted to make sure that I hopped on here and included every link I mentioned throughout the podcast:

Instagram Post About Emily Duncan Controversy: https://www.instagram.com/p/CNaZ61Er6UW/

The interview where Catherine Hardwicke talks about working with Stephenie Meyer: https://popculture.com/movies/news/twilight-author-stephanie-meyer-racist-twitter-new-book-reveal/

Sam Reimer’s essay about the racism in Twilight: http://film.byu.edu/aperture/?p=187

An interesting article about Hermione Granger’s Racial depiction and character description: https://bookriot.com/white-bias-in-literature/

2019 report on diversity in children’s and YA literature: https://bookriot.com/diversity-in-childrens-and-young-adult-literature/

THE 2018 STATE OF RACIAL DIVERSITY IN ROMANCE PUBLISHING FROM THE RIPPED BODICE: https://bookriot.com/the-2018-state-of-racial-diversity-in-romance-publishing-from-the-ripped-bodice/

WHERE IS THE DIVERSITY IN PUBLISHING? THE 2015 DIVERSITY BASELINE SURVEY RESULTS: https://blog.leeandlow.com/2016/01/26/where-is-the-diversity-in-publishing-the-2015-diversity-baseline-survey-results/

Articles to read when you’re learning how to write characters of a different race:

https://midnightbreakfast.com/writing-people-of-color

How To Shorten Your Poetry

Hey guys! I shared a video today discussing how you can make sure you’re being intentional with your poetry by adding a couple steps to your editing process. Poetry doesn’t need to be short to be good but it needs to be intentional! Feel free to comment your thoughts down below, I can’t wait to hear them!

I made sure to attach the draft I referred to throughout the video so you guys can get a feel for how I personally edit. The perfectionist in me hates uploading a draft because I want everything to be perfect but I really hope you guys are able to use this as a guide to improve your editing process.

Stop Using Plot Twists For Shock Value! (New Podcast Episode)

What's New in the Digital Marketing World? AJ's Creative Corner

Hey guys! Welcome to this week's episode where we cover digital marketing trends in 2021, Instagram's new blog post breaking down how their algorithm works, and the ongoing feud between Facebook and Apple. I used 3 different articles in this episode so like always they are linked down below and I highly encourage you to go check them out. This is the first installment of a reoccurring series. At least once a month or once every other month I will be doing a digital marketing news segment to tell you guys all about what's new in the digital marketing world. I hope you guys enjoy this episode and I will see you next week! Sources: https://ppcexpo.com/blog/what-is-new-in-digital-marketing https://about.instagram.com/blog/announcements/shedding-more-light-on-how-instagram-works https://www.theverge.com/2021/6/7/22522706/facebook-creators-apple-google-fees-payment-interface-events — This episode is sponsored by · Anchor: The easiest way to make a podcast. https://anchor.fm/app
  1. What's New in the Digital Marketing World?
  2. What happened at the Cecil Hotel?
  3. How Do I Become A Freelance Writer?
  4. Does Censorship Belong in the Writing Space?
  5. How to Write a Horror Story

The Movie Antebellum: What Went Wrong?

Before I even begin this post I just want to give a major warning not to read this article if you want to see the movie Antebellum and you don’t want to hear what happens. I’ll see you in the next post!

I am a long-time lover of horror movies, Janelle Monáe, and Gabby Sidibe so I was surprised to see that I hadn’t even heard of the movie Antebellum. I started by watching the trailer and it looked amazing. From what I gathered from the trailer this movie was about an African-American woman who was an author on some sort of mission. The trailer was so vague that I couldn’t figure out if that mission was her trying to write a new book or do some sort of research.

In the trailer, it cuts back and forth between the main character in modern times and then what appears to be flashbacks or maybe even nightmares she is having about the past during slavery in America. There is one scene where she is in her hotel room in the middle of a yoga lesson and then she is interrupted by a nonstop pounding on her door. When she answers the door there is a little girl standing at the end of the hallway staring at her. Maybe this is just me but I got major throwback vibes to The Shining when those twin girls are standing in the hallway.

My conclusion that I drew from the trailer was that this author was somehow going to be jumping into different unpleasant time periods. So when the movie began with scenery that depicted the lives of slaves on a plantation in America, I wasn’t shocked because I had already gotten a glimpse into this scene in the trailer.

What did surprise me was how long the movie covered this time period. It must have been at least a half-hour before I started to get confused. In the trailer the character had clearly been living in modern times for most of it so why was the majority of the movie taking place in a completely different time period? The main character who was called Eden on the plantation by white slave masters was enduring hardships that many slaves in America went through.

After spending the first half-hour of the movie understanding that Eden had one failed attempt at escaping which resulted in her getting branded, you begin to root for her and another slave on the plantation they refer to as ‘professor’ to escape the plantation successfully. All of a sudden the movie jerks back to modern times and the woman who has been referred to as ‘Eden’ throughout the entire movie is now a successful author whose name is Veronica. 

With a little patience and a lot of confusion, you begin to figure out that a lot of the white ‘slave masters’ you saw on the plantation at the beginning of the movie are popping up in the background in modern times around Veronica. At first, I couldn’t figure out if this was some sort of nightmare, illusion, or flashback. However, finally, maybe an hour into the movie you realize that this entire movie has been taking place in modern times. The scenes of what seems to be typical slave life on the plantation are actually taking place during modern times.

I know. It sounds confusing. Basically, this whole movie takes place on a plantation in New Orleans that has been transformed into a Civil War Reenactment Park. Yeah. It’s pretty twisted. Once you learn that plot twist you feel a punch to the gut once you look back and reflect on all of the brutal punishments and horrific treatment that was doled out throughout the entire movie. There are a lot of little snippets into all of the ways that racism presents itself in modern times and there’s a sobering reminder about the history of slavery in America. 

Overall the acting was excellent, it was well filmed, and the plot was definitely original. So when I went to look at what ratings it received from critics and checked the YouTube comments for the trailer of the movie I was surprised to see how enraged a lot of people were at this movie. This outrage sparked for a couple of reasons.

The first reason is people are tired of seeing companies profit off black trauma. I agree. Black representation isn’t just needed in serious films that discuss the traumatic and brutal treatment of black people in our history. Black representation is also needed in every other genre. 

The second reason that I realized people were upset is for a reason that I have discussed here on my blog before and gotten a lot of feedback about. It’s that same sharp plot twist that famous authors and movie writers love to use as often as they can. I’ve talked about how having an extremely shocking plot twist towards the end of a Fiction Novel can actually take away from the reader’s experience and quite a few of you reached out to let me know that you agree.

WIth Antebellum what made people so mad is that you practically got through three-fourths of the movie before they delivered the plot twist. You spent so long trying to gather your thoughts and connect the dots that by the time the movie ended you had lost your attachment to the characters because you were still trying to understand who everyone actually was. Not only that but the ending (major spoiler alert) seemed to lose sight of the main character, Veronica’s motivation.

Veronica was referred to as Eden on the plantation because they gave all of the ‘slaves’ on the plantation new names once they arrived. The movie ends with Veronica leading three of the twisted white men who had spent the entirety of the movie torturing black people and regurgitating neo-nazi propaganda into the ‘burn shed’ where she set it on fire and killed them. Veronica kills the woman who had been in charge of hand-selecting every black person on the plantation by smashing her head on a statue of Robert E. Lee. Then she rides on a horse with a torch in her hand to the entrance of the reenactment park as police officers arrive.

That’s not necessarily a bad ending, right? She got revenge which she deserved. However, her main motivation for escaping the plantation was to reunite with her daughter and husband. You assume they reunite in the end but you don’t know for sure because the movie never shows you or even tells you that. It’s a heroic meaningful ending but they left out an essential part of the main character’s motivation which honestly resulted in an unsatisfying ending.


When I talk about how the overused concept of plot twists can take away from the reader’s experience when we talk about writing stories on this blog, this is exactly what I mean. It can be a well-written original plot twist but if it happens at the expense of the character development you’ve spent so long creating for your readers to learn from, is it actually worth it?

Modern storytelling shouldn’t be a competition for who can have the most shocking plot twist. Modern storytelling should be about consistent character development and effectively leaving some sort of lesson or gift for your audience.

Confinement

Fifteen reminds me of her long black hair and the splash of freckles on her skin

She’d tie her flannel shirt around her waist before we climbed the chain-link fence

I didn’t know it then, I was too petrified to indulge in a forbidden sin

It was mesmerizing, I stayed on her hook happy to live in suspense.

She had a wild heart, she had a vile mouth and I strangely lived in envy

I was playing a role she was living my truth, I didn’t know what I was feeling.

She tells stories like me but she stretches them out until the fiction becomes almost deadly

It was an unfiltered admiration, a mindless infatuation and then one day it all hit a ceiling.

I liked the parts of her that were wild and free but always kept a little sweetness

There was a wicked side but I turned a blind eye, eager to keep her on a throne in my mind

She’s gone now and I’m grateful for that but I still savor the bits and the pieces,

Because of her I’m forever freed, there’s no version of me living confined.

Reality

When I was a little girl if I had a bad day,

I would simply close my eyes & make it all go away.

I’ve always had this special talent of disappearing into my head

Shifting reality to fit into the story I created instead.

When I opened my eyes again everything was brand new,

I wasn’t really me and you weren’t really you.

With the snap of my fingers I was an actress in a role,

I never used it to be cruel, I just used it when life was dull.

Even as an adult I make up these universes in my head

To escape the monotony, the reoccurring dread.

Every once in awhile I have this sobering, sudden fear

That I’ve slipped far into the role, that reality’s become unclear.

New York City

I have a love for New York City,

The streets are too crowded, my pictures never turned out pretty.

With every one moving so fast day to day,

No one cares what you do. No one cares what you say.

I have a love for New York City

And a troubling romance for the vodka I carried with me.

I woke up at midnight and I walked there all alone.

I always hated it there but I couldn’t go home.

With a stomach full of liquor and 50 dollars in my pocket,

I stared at a Ripley’s Believe it or Not! Mirror wondering if I’d lost it.

I have a love for New York City.

A love I visit when I’m lost, not a love I carry with me.

Spring

Every Spring I awaken,

And the water is still.

The grass is growing greener,

And she’s soothed me through the nightmares.

As the cherry blossoms begin to form,

I go somewhere.

I go to him.

A marble statue,

Sitting on a throne.

He’s cold to the touch,

And his voice induces chills.

I close my eyes and hold my breath,

While his tight grip leaves indents on my skin

I don’t leave until the water starts to rise,

And the grass begins to whither.

Until I’m dismissed with his approving nod,

Until I’ve place my spirit in the palm of his hand

Like some sick sacred offering.

Then I lay still in my bed,

And I wait and I sleep,

Until it’s Spring again.

My Most Unpopular Opinions: Poetry Edition

Last week I uploaded a post about some “unpopular” opinions of mine that have to do with fiction novels. This week I’m going to be talking about some more controversial opinions I have about poetry in general. Here are my top 5 unpopular opinions about poetry:

Not all Poetry has to Rhyme

  1. Not all poetry has to rhyme. I saw an article the other day that went into the author’s opinion that poetry has to rhyme to be considered poetry since that is the genre’s defining characteristic to separate it from other styles of writing. It was an extremely well written and well thought out article. However, I disagree! I think what distinguishes poetry from other types of writing is much more complex than that. Visual presentation, different line structures, length, and content are just some of the factors that can distinguish poetry from a different style of writing. I think free verse poetry is an extremely valid structure of poetry, that can be lyrical and has a unique flow without having to rhyme. Some free verse poetry does follow a rhyme or meter structure at least slightly and some does not. However it’s the content of free verse poetry that discusses a topic in depth, appeals to the senses and showcases imagery that in my opinion, makes it a perfectly valid form of poetry.

The Pretentious Environment Turns People Away

2. Poetry’s pretentious environment turns people away. It needs to be discussed. I have a deeply rooted love for poetry and I love to seek out spaces where I can share this love with others. However, especially when I was first starting out and becoming brave enough to join clubs or classes, it was extremely discouraging how snobby the poetry environment can be. If you don’t share a fascination for certain classics or you dare to wander over to the world of contemporary poetry, you are sometimes made to feel like you don’t understand poetry as well as others. I’m here to tell you that isn’t true. Shakespeare is my worst nightmare to this day. I don’t enjoy his content or even the structure of his poetry. I do have an appreciation though for the innovation he brought to poetry and the history that he’s made. This mindset is how more people need to approach poetry. What inspires and fascinates one poet, may completely bore another, but that doesn’t make you a bad poet! It just makes you a poet with different preferences and that is perfectly fine. We should be excited and inviting when someone shares a love for poetry. We should never be guilty of being gatekeepers based off our own personal opinions.

Why do so many People Hate Slam Poetry?

3. Why do so many people hate slam poetry?? I know, I know. I just got done talking about how everyone is entitled to their own preferences and I meant it. I’m not upset at this fact, I’m just truly fascinated why some people hate slam poetry so deeply. I agree that just because you call it slam poetry, doesn’t necessarily make it poetry. Still, I have been in the audience to witness how a passionate reading can infuse a poem with so much life and inspire the audience in a completely different way than written poetry can. I think slam poetry is so mesmerizing and unique. I especially think it’s great when conveying an extremely strong emotion or discussing social issues. If you’re not a fan of slam poetry, let me know in the comments! There’s no judgement here, I am just genuinely curious.

Rap is Poetry

Rap is poetry. Like I’ve been saying throughout this article, poetry comes in so many different forms and I don’t think any of us have the right to gatekeep what “real poetry” is. I don’t think that every single rap song is a poem necessarily but so much of it is. So many rap songs have a consistent rhyme structure, appeal to the senses, showcase imagery, and just in general align with the structure of a typical poem in so many ways. Why are so many people insistent that rap is not poetry? I think at some point we have to be honest about the toxic attitude that can take over the poetry world. When rappers or other poets use explicit language, discuss social issues, or discuss the reality of their economic class, it may not be pretty or romantic but guess what? It’s poetry! You don’t have to like it and you don’t have to read it but we need to give credit where credit is due. There is some legendary poetic talent in the world of rap and it is “real poetry” in every sense.

Poetry Doesn’t Have to be Deep

5. Poetry doesn’t have to be deep. For a brief moment I hated poetry and when I think back to why, it was because in order to be considered a well respected poet it seemed like I wasn’t allowed to have any fun. I have always been a deep thinker with deep emotions and poetry helps me put that into words. I’ve always had a deep love for similes, metaphors, symbolism and those themes are rich in poetry. However, in the words of my mom “Sometimes the water is just blue.” Sometimes there is no symbolism, metaphor, or deeper meaning. Sometimes the water is just blue and I want to write about a silly and meaningless topic just because it’s fun. However, if you want to write poetry with a more complex meaning then go for it! The number one rule to poetry is simple; be authentic. If you’re feeling like you have a heavy heart and want to talk about it then go for it. If you’re having a light hearted day and you want to write a poem just to see if you can pull off a random rhyme structure then do it. I just think we are at our best and our poetry is at its best when we’re authentic and open to other people’s interpretations.

Do you agree or disagree with any of these opinions? Do you have any unpopular opinions of your own? Let me know in the comments down below!