A New Class of Writers

I see this morning that Author James Patterson has apologized for his recent remarks claiming that white male writers who struggle to find work are victims of “another form of racism.”

His apology was predictable. Anyone who makes a comment that implies that racism can’t be suffered by a white person is – in the mind of they – making a racist remark that will eventually have to be walked back.

These days, it’s hard to have the courage to say: “That’s what I said, and that’s what I meant.” Some comedians get by with it, but even they can be subject to verbal whiplash. It feels like apologies abound.

You would think that someone worth a reported $800 million would feel liberated to say whatever he thinks as long as it’s not hateful to others. Not the case. And to a successful writer, the thought of your books being verbally burned or your writing canceled or your publisher treating you like a pariah because of an off-hand remark must be pretty terrifying.

Still, as far as I’m concerned, there was no apology needed. Patterson was likely stating a fact. The focus on diversity and the emphasis on blackness and the LGBTQ community in the media, in entertainment and in America has probably put the talents of many white male writers, particularly older ones, on the back burner.

More than being a form of racism, I would call it supply and demand. The old sayings that you write what you know and that you can’t truly understand someone unless you have walked miles in their shoes seem to apply here.

Some might also say that in the vast universe we live in where the pendulum is always moving, it’s only fair that black, gay and transgender writers have their day in the sun. There is interest in their voices. For now, at least.

I happen to believe that there is room for everyone in the field of creativity. Even us older writers. And perhaps that is what James Patterson said or was trying to say. He and I don’t talk, so I don’t know.

Maybe the writer who is always out there promoting his new books also subscribes to the old saying: There’s no such thing as bad publicity. Clever man.

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