• Matt Brown

Same But Different

Posted on 7/23 from my original site

I’m not one for politics. If I were to be honest I think the moment you discuss it on any format publicly, it can be paramount to social suicide. It also depends on which audience grabs hold of what you have to say.


I think sometimes though, it ends up being a topic you can’t avoid. Invariably you are going to be asked for your opinion and it leaves you in a tough position. You have to figure out how the person might respond or if they go from friend to angry enemy in a snap.


For some people it seems they have a insatiable need to be heard, they want their voice to be relevant. I’ve seen it go as far as to stomp all over another person to get there. Don’t take this as a complaint post, there just have been a few things I’ve been observing this week that have gotten me thinking.


I think we should discuss things, I’m not an advocate for just burying your head in the sand. Nowadays it’s a bit scary to discuss most topics before you want to do just that though. Recently I’ve been stopped a few times at work by a lady who wanted to discuss politics.

I was polite, I listened, I mean I’m not going to be rude. I was still nervous though, because I had a customer asking for my opinion. It’s a slippery slope, cause you have to think about what would happen if they get angry with you. I’ve had people try to correct me in ‘my incorrect way of thinking’ before. Frankly it’s awkward.


But as we talked, I can’t say I agreed totally with what she said, but you could definitely see she was passionate and that’s good. Being passionate isn’t a bad thing at all. But as I tried to explain a different point of view, I could already feel the resistance. Again there were parts of the topic I agreed with one hundred percent, but I couldn’t completely step into the rest of it.

By now, you’re probably wondering where I’m going, but don’t worry I’m getting to there. I guess the first part of my thoughts on this are this: Have we really gotten to the point that the discussion is over? Either we agree or get flamed? I doesn’t seem right.


Where this is relevant is when it comes to some of the things I have been writing over the past few weeks. Both for the book and on the Thursday blog posts. It really hit me when I was writing about Akallis and the black War Troll.


For those of you who don’t know, BOOK One of my series touches a little on racism. I don’t think I wrote it to make a political statement, honestly politics was the furthest thing from my mind. As I’ve been editing however, I never realized on how many different topics I was touching on unconsciously.


But the struggles the character goes through to prove himself in a culture and society where he is unwanted is fairly deep. The things is, as the story progresses, he earns the respect of the people that disliked him just because of his appearance. He wasn’t one of them and they shunned him for it.


But as he moves forward, he becomes changed as well. He begins to understand that the underlying reason of their dislike is fear and loss. They fear that his presence will threaten the way of life they have come to know and love. That their culture will be irrevocably changed as a result.


Instead of becoming bitter, he grows from his experiences and as time moves on they begin to consider him family. He goes from being the outsider to being one of them. To be honest I’m a bit surprised myself. I mean when I write something, I have a plan, but often the story takes on a different direction unexpectedly. I simply write what the characters tell me to without diving too deeply.


His trials are far from over, but it’s the first step. I think we often forget that fundamentally we aren’t all that different from one another. We laugh, we love, we cry, we hate, we hurt. All of us experience this on a daily basis. Maybe not at the same time but over the course of the weeks and months that pass us by.


Sure we have different backgrounds, come from various cultures with different ideals. The diversity the comes from this is what makes us so unique and special. We can’t hammer everyone into the same round hole, some of us are square, some of us are angular, and not all of us are circular.


We cant scream at someone because their views are different or because they don’t look like us. We can’t hate them and view them with derision because we feel they are ignorant and incompetent for their beliefs. We can’t flame them because they write something we feel is unacceptable.


That’s where the Thursday posts come in. As I was writing it, I started cringing every time I described the troll. I kept imagining people say, “why does it have to be black?” To be honest I don’t have a particular reason. But the fear was still there.


I couldn’t help but think, “Has it really gotten to that point that I can’t even use a word without someone throwing an accusation my way?” Everytime I typed it, part of me kept cringing. I think it’s bad when we get to the point where we can’t even write things without card being thrown in one direction or another.


As writers we should be able to write what’s relevant. Characters have to be a certain way sometimes. It’s not pretty and there plenty of characters that I’ve felt disgusted by as I’ve written them, but that was who they had to be.


I think it was last year, but I was sitting in subway working on redrafting Book 2 and I get a random message from someone I know. They were asking me how I was doing, how were things with my writings, mostly small talk.


I explained, but what he said next floored me. I literally didn’t even know how to respond. It still sticks with me today: “Make sure your cultures and characters are culturally and socially diverse to properly represent today’s society or no one will read your work. You won’t be a success.”


I’d be lying if it didn’t make me reanalyze everything I had spent so many years working on. I mean I have spent a long time building this world my books are set in. I’d borrowed cultural ideas and concepts from many different places and made them my own. Part of me felt it was unfair to compare out world to the one I had created. I mean square pegs and round holes after all. In the end I just closed the chat and moved on. I haven’t spoken to him since. Not because I’m bitter, but there really wouldn’t be anything to talk about. We’re just different and like I said, that’s ok.


Even now, as I think about the fight between Akallis and the troll chieftain, I can see all the different ways some words could be spun. That’s a choice people will make, I’m not them and they aren’t me. Again we’re all different and at some point we have to open a dialogue and accept that.


I mean I could talk about my own experiences of how on was on the receiving end of a particular card play, but I’m sure it’s not necessary. But I can understand how it hurts, but like Redgar, I’m not bitter, it serves no purpose. Most people that know me have seen how big my heart is for other people. I just hope one day we can stop looking at each other with so much hate and celebrate the differences, instead of rejecting them.


Regards,

Matt Brown

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