My drug of choice is writing––writing, art, reading, inspiration, books, creativity, process, craft, blogging, grammar, linguistics, and did I mention writing?

Thursday, June 11, 2020

You Can Only Kill the Author....a LITTLE

I'm going to be babysitting comments for most of the day over on Writing About Writing's Facebook Page, because this post will probably bring out the more than a few trolls. 

So instead of a regular post today, I'm going to repeat what I said there.

Okay, folks....

First a reminder: if you can't disagree quietly and scroll on by, find and read the commenting guidelines unless you want to be getting your "You should be writing" memes from somewhere else by this time tomorrow. [This isn't exactly applicable to blog comments, but I do moderate them.]

Secondly, while there seems to be some discourse going on about how far Death of an Author can extend, the voices that we should be listening to (the folks harmed––namely the trans community) are generally not okay with such a flippant dismissal of authorial harm (in this case Rowling's transphobia), so it's important to understand who you're hurting and erasing, even when such things are said in jest.

While I understand the discussion continues, and I've no place getting involved in it directly myself (strictly speaking, I'm not cisgender, but I'm also not trans), I also did not want my taking a seat and listening to begin to stretch my silence into the "conspicuous" length on a platform like Writing About Writing.

My experience has ever been that the separation of art and artist is and has always been an intensely personal decision. Inspiring problematic artists have always existed, and as much as we want to, we can neither undo someone's harm nor reach back into our childhoods or young adulthoods (or even last week) and make certain media be NOT formative to who we are. However, I have always always ALWAYS taken the position that it is important to understand these things and listen to others. That an artist means a lot to one person never means they are exculpated from their hurtful behaviors to another, and whether you consider it an important part of the post-structural analysis of a good little writer or you just want to make sure you're not being a willfully oblivious asshole, understanding that art and artist can NEVER be vacuum-sealed away from each other is vital to one's relationship to either–-and to one's own work (because your bullshit is going to come up in your work too, so you better unpack it).

The post I've seen going around most lauded by the trans community is either THIS POST or a truncated version of it on FB shared by Sophie Labelle. It will sting if you love Harry Potter, but I think it's important for any person who reads extensively (and CERTAINLY any writer) to keep these things in mind. Don't make heroes of artists. Authors, and all artists, are human and most are deeply flawed. 

Please read it with an open mind.

And in case it somehow didn't go without saying, trans women are women, trans men are men, and J.K. Rowling is a writer, and so will be able to obfuscate her bigotry behind a lot of floccose language, but the fact remains that beyond her gossamer words, she is a transphobe.


  1. Yup. The same argument is used in Buddhist communities to evade facing facts about teachers who abuse their power and abuse their students. “Separate the teacher from the teachings”. But we can nothing is created in a vacuum so.... thanks for sharing this.