Meeting Things Head-On

Tuesday, November 16, 2021

I was invited to a book club meeting recently. The women in the group had read my book, Greenwood Gone: Henry's Story. I joined their Zoom, anticipating a spirited conversation. I was not disappointed.

They asked some questions. Why didn't you make it a happy ending? (I felt too many people had just vanished--nobody knew what had happened to them. They're finding mass graves now. And besides, is there truly a happy ending in a massacre?) What made you write about the Tulsa Race Massacre? (I felt too often we've swept our tragedies--our mistakes--under the rug. This event was never taught in any history book I've used. My book is one way for young people to learn about the massacre.) How long did it take you to write it? (About five years. Two years for an awful first draft. Another couple of years of revising and getting it edited. A year or more for queries and lots and lots of rejections before finally getting a yes.)

Then they asked me: Do you have any questions for us? and I had to acknowledge the elephant in the room.

They were all Black. I am not.  I was curious if they were offended by someone white writing from a Black perspective. 

To not delve into that perhaps-it's-gonna-be-a difficult conversation would be pointless. If I hadn't pulled on my thick skin (the same skin I strap on when working with my middle-school students) and willingly posed as a target, I wouldn't have grown as a writer. When writing my book, I wanted my main characters to have integrity. I want the same thing for myself. 

                                                                    image by Pixabay

Meeting things head-on in with these book club ladies made me think of other ways in which writers need to be honest...

  • A market has dried up/changed. There is an anthology that's published 15 of my stories. I haven't had a yes from them in years. It's time I resign myself: stop wasting time. It's said that insanity is doing the same thing over and over, and expecting different results. Why do I continue to submit, thinking their needs have suddenly changed (back)?

  • Talking and dreaming isn't doing. I've said I want to approach churches to discuss the possibility of setting up a book club. I need to set up a timeline--an action plan--and start acting on my dreams.

  • Use the available resources. You may think you don't need a colleague's assistance/advice... You may think it's better to not use a plotting tool to keep your story from meandering forever--you can do it on your own. If there's technology/a book/a person that can help, buy it/use it/ask.

How about you? How do you meet things head-on? Hard-headed writers want to know...

Sioux Roslawski is a freelance writer (who hopefully is going to find markets that might possibly publish her stuff) and is a published novelist (who is also hopefully going to take some action on getting her book out there more). You can find more of her writing on her blog (


Joanne said...

Sioux, you are fierce! I admire your integrity.

I'm curious what the women said when you asked the elephant in the room question. If that's too nosy, then just ignore.

Kudos on your book, and on your getting the word out about this tragedy. I hadn't heard of it either, until you brought it up in the Muffin when you were working on it, and until concurrent podcasts to which I've been listening over the last year (It's Been a Minute, Into America, Code Switch, Rachel Maddow, Terri Gross) began talking about it as well.

Thank you for what you are doing.


Sioux Roslawski said...

Joanne--They were not offended or bothered. Some of them felt the book lacked a cultural authenticity, but they appreciated the main character's intelligence, along with the family's strength.

Thank YOU. If it weren't for you, Joanne, and your suggestion about forming a writing accountability group, I would never have finished my manuscript, and I would have given up on querying sooner than 141 submissions.

Thanks for the nudge and the support.

Margo Dill said...

I love that you asked this. :) What a perfect group to discuss this huge issue with.

Sioux Roslawski said...

Margo--I told them that however brutal their comments were, they could never equal my middle-schoolers brutal honesty.

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