Missing the mark and realizing my mistakes.
I normally don’t write follow-ups to blog posts, but this was bothering me all weekend and I felt the need to provide corrections, self-critiques, and an apology.
Last week I wrote a blog post about avoiding heavy-handed representation and used an example of an unnamed minor character’s transgender past that you would have never known about unless I mentioned it. It was my attempt to provide writing advice about subtle representation. For some people who read it, I missed the mark completely. I place the blame on no one but myself for that, and after some polite critiques of the blog post I realized how I screwed up. One such critique I received summed up everything I did wrong quite nicely:
“As a trans woman who makes comics about queer people, I appreciate the desire to just let queer people exist in your comic. But having a background character who we can only know is trans through a detail not even included in the script means nothing for trans representation.”
On top of that, Thursday’s blog was poorly worded in many places and I came across as patting myself on the back. I implied that how I handled revealing the character’s past was a good example of representation, which it was clearly not. In trying to give advice about not being heavy-handed, I was heavy-handed in praise of myself and pointing out how “good” I am at showing and not telling. There were many things wrong with last Thursday’s blog post, I understand why some people were upset, and I acknowledge that I messed up.
This has been one of my biggest writing flaws since I began my career in webcomics, and apparently it remains an occasional problem to this day. In trying to write something positive and inclusive, I sometimes miss the mark so completely that the results are the exact opposite of what I was aiming for. In trying to sound humble, I end up bragging. In trying to be confident, I end up arrogant. This doesn’t always happen, but when it does I can end up hurting people’s feelings and that is the last thing I ever want to do. It’s not in my nature to be full of myself or prideful, so when my writing stumbles this badly I become aggravated by my mistakes.
Thanks to everyone who sent me polite critiques regarding Thursday’s blog post, and how to move forward with more inclusive, less heavy-handed representation. I write a lot of blog posts here and sometimes they don’t land where they’re supposed to. I offer my apologies to anyone who was displeased by what they read and I’ll try do to better in the future, both here in the blog section and in the comic itself.