Sunday, July 29, 2012

Musing 24 – What's In A Name or Seriously, Chill!

Here I am for the first time at Barnes and Noble in several weeks because I’ve been taking advantage of the overtime my 9 to 5 was offering.  But I really needed a break.  I was feeling overwhelmed, between, work, school and wri ting.
Right now I’m taking a short break from doing the final line edits on Crave the Dark.  I’m eager to introduce this new work to my fab readers, so I’m hurrying along as fast as I can.

Okay, time for On The Shelves.  I think I’ll call it that and make it a special portion of Musings.  So what’s on the shelves?  Angels, both light and dark seem to be gaining in popularity.  I saw less cowboys and women in leather and now I’m seeing some steampunk.  I don’t know if I would ever write something like that because it appears you’d probably have to research engineering or something of that nature.  Steampunk authors, feel free to correct me if I’m wrong. 

I’m finally finishing up my summer courses and won’t have anything again until September when I take on the dreaded algebra again.  I’m still looking for people to do it for me.  Any takers?  Anybody?!

I’ll pass Macroeconomics, just barely but I’m certain I’ll do Sociology with a high B if not an A.  I found the Sociology course quite fascinating and I feel it will really assist me with my writing, since it is, by all accounts, the study of people and the worlds around them.

And something I just have to speak on, although I’ll probably hear about it.  I suppose it’s because of my Sociology class that it got me to thinking about a certain topic, which the last few chapters I’ve read in the text are covering.  The subject is race and names.

But my Soc course is the only reason I’m contemplating the subject.  A little while ago on Goodreads, a user posted the following comment concerning my novella, Souls Inflamed:

Interesting premise but why, oh why, the NAME FAIL? Don't these writers know black people have "regular" names like Steve, Joe, Chris and yes, Ken??? Demetrius just screams "Hey, I'm a black guy!" Author, please QUIT!”

Let me get my “wow”, out of the way first.

My second thought was, “Quit what?  Writing?  Using, names that I like?  Sorry, sweetie, neither one is going to happen.”  Yes, I really know what she meant.  Out of curiosity, I looked at a few of her other reviews and I saw a similar pattern, writers who had certain names for people of color, or had their interracial couples acting and reacting a certain way, received one star and scathing reviews from this person.

When I choose a name, race has nothing to do with it. I choose a name that I like and that I think suits the character.  I’m aware of those “regular names” which poses another question, why are those names, “regular” and Demetrius isn’t?  What is she using to determine that opinion? Because many people use those names?  Well if, in her opinion, people use a certain name too much as well, doesn’t that make that name “regular?”  Just out of curiosity, I went downstairs the night I saw this and asked my brother how many guys he knew named Demetrius.

My Brother: “Four.”
Me: “Really?”
My Brother: “Yeah, I went to school with two of them.”

That came as a complete surprise to me as I don’t know anyone named Demetrius.  Seriously and this lady had been around since – well for a little bit anyway but maybe it’s because my brother was raised by my mother in the city, and I was raised by my grandparents in the burbs.  But who really knows?

In fact I don’t believe in slapping a race label on anything – names, books, music, or sports, just to name a few.  There are many things that I like that some people consider out of my race and you know what?  I could care less what they think.  Until I went out on my own, I acted like people thought I should act, dress, speak, and what and who I should like.  Not anymore.

My character did not feel like a Steve (a name I won’t use because it’s the name of an ex) or Joe, Chris or Ken, which I’ve already used.  I try not to use the name twice.

And isn’t labeling something as being aligned with a certain race, in itself a stereotype?  This name is only reserved for Blacks, Whites, Hispanics, and Asians; it screams them, as she says.  I just wonder what this lady does when she meets someone who has a name that she deems to be a name only fit for a certain race?  Surely she doesn’t react the same way?  If she can live with it in life why not in the books she reads?

Seriously, if I’m reading a book with a damn good plot, engaging characters, and I’m up till 2 am just to finish it, the character names only play a small part in why I pick up that next book.

I mentioned earlier that the reviewer also gives one star reviews to those who write their interracial characters a certain way.  I can only assume she’s in one herself and basing her comments on how her relationship is going and not how another couple may carry themselves.  It’s her right to have her own guidelines and her way of thinking, but I feel she’s missing out on a lot of good works, not to mention leaving a bad impression of herself.

But I digress.  My fellow authors keep doing your thing.  Write for yourselves, write for your readers.  There are things we can do about labels, and things we can’t.  Some things must be labeled, otherwise where would they go on the bookshelves?   Just don’t label what comes from your mind, soul and keyboard.  Always keep yourselves outside of the box.

PS: I’ve said it quite often, if anyone has a problem with something I’ve written feel free buzz me.  Seriously, I don’t bite, unless you want me too... ;)


Bk Walker said...

This was awesome CJ. I have to agree with you, she is missing out on a lot and basing her reviews on past experience and not the book itself.

That was great your brother knew some Demetrius', lol. Kinda cool.

Keep on keepin' on!

CJ Black said...

Thanks Bk! Have a fab weekend!