I’ve got a lot in my head these days, so let me start with the basics: there are some important events in the kidlit world that you definitely don’t want to miss. Jodie and Colleen shared news of the annual GuysLitWire Book Fair, which enables you to donate books to a library in need. I love this initiative because the school has a say in the process—no one’s dumping unwanted or unsold books onto these kids.
The next event was posted by Doret—the Diversity in YA book tour is coming to NYC! There will be two events in the city with authors Matt de la Peña, Malinda Lo, Kekla Magoon, Neesha Meminger, Cindy Pon, Olugbemisola Rhuday-Perkovich, Rita Williams-Garcia, and Jacqueline Woodson. What a line-up!
Ok, here’s where things get sketchy. I’m writing again, and that means I’m spending most of my time inside. Being productive on the inside often means that I’m cranky and/or blue on the outside. Not ideal when I still have to teach 3x a week and otherwise function in “the real world.” Last weekend I wrote two thousand words about Nyla, a military brat who likes to call the shots but nonetheless finds herself the victim of sexual assault. On base. I’ve wanted to write about rape in the military for a while, but wasn’t sure how the subject would manifest in my writing. I think I’ve figured it out—I’ve got this short piece about Nyla, and it concludes with her stepmother Sachi demanding the kind of justice many victims of sexual assault don’t get in the military.
Then I woke up on Monday and learned that Osama bin Laden had been killed in a raid the night before. I looked at all the comments and quotes and links on Facebook and really couldn’t think of what to say. I thought about the two classes I was scheduled to teach that afternoon and wondered how I could connect our course material to the breaking news. Then I checked my email inbox and found three photographs from a soldier I met online; I sent him some copies of Wish last year and he shared them with others stationed in Iraq. Ordinarily, I’d immediately post reader photos to my blog, but yesterday just didn’t seem like the right day. And the more I looked at the photos—especially the one of a soldier holding up a copy of my book with a machine gun slung across his chest—the stranger it felt. What did I expect when I sent those books to Iraq? I wanted to “support the troops” and so I sent books and then Xmas decorations when the holidays rolled around. It felt like a sincere gesture, so why do I now have a problem posting those photos on my blog? You can’t “support the troops” but only imagine them sipping egg nog in the mess hall. I can’t post the “neutral” photos on my blog and withhold the image of the solider with the book AND the gun. So the photos are still sitting in my inbox.
Over the weekend I watched a movie about conscientious objectors to the war in Iraq; I listened to two soldiers (one active, one discharged) talk about hypocrisy. Are you a hypocrite if you insist on the right to object to war yet refuse to acknowledge that that right is defended by those willing to bear arms? The active soldier said, “What would have happened in WWII if soldiers hadn’t taken up arms and fought the Nazis?” And the conscientious objector responded by saying, “What if more German soldiers had laid down their arms and refused to follow orders they knew were unjust?” The active soldier insisted there would never be enough conscientious objectors to end war; in this country we rely upon volunteers who are willing to risk their lives by joining the armed forces. Osama bin Laden is dead and that was brought about by highly trained Navy Seals. Would we need Navy Seals if there were no terrorists? It’s a chicken & egg type of question. And the reality is, we can’t ever get back to the moment/place where war wasn’t necessary. When school girls have acid thrown on them in Afghanistan, I don’t have a problem with US soldiers and guns. But when women soldiers are raped by fellow soldiers? I don’t know what to do about the military. My older brother was in the reserves and I remember being so proud of him in his uniform. I never saw him with a gun. I never asked if he served alongside women. Now I have too many questions…