Research! Or: WTF am I doing?

12 Apr

Edited to take out a paragraph that didn’t fit.

HEY I’M GOING TO RAMBLE NOW OKAY?  THANKS!  WOO!

(Spoilers for Book 2, maybe, but if you’ve read Digital Divide then you’re good.  Moving on…)

Now that Digital Divide is done, I’m returning to the original outlines for Book 2.  Maker Space (working but very likely title) is grouped around the theme of “outing,” or personal and societal response to perceptions of ability and the self.  In Maker Space, the mental damage done to the cyborgs has been made public, and Rachel’s status as a person who does not have working eyes will be revealed.  Thus far, it’s been established that anyone who refers to Rachel as “blind” gets their butts handed to them on a pretty silver platter.  Rachel will shout far and wide that she’s not blind, but there’s a rather telling line on p.230 of Digital Divide which shows the lady doth protest too much.  In the back of her mind, Rachel knows she is blind, or at least her life has been irrevocably changed because of limitations on her visual senses.   For example, she was an avid reader who can no longer read or write without putting a lot of conscious effort into it, and that has altered her experiences when she encounters the written word.

I knew going into Maker Space that I’d have to do a lot of research to understand how members of the blind community perceive possible alterations to sight via new technologies.  This is absolutely necessary: I am not a member of their community and I shouldn’t go throwing assumptions around of how the blind community thinks or feels.  On that note, I also can’t group “the blind community” into a single lump sum; sharing a single physical characteristic does not result in homogenization of preferences or opinions.

So I’m sitting here on a Friday night and dreading the next few weeks of research.  I’m going to be spending a lot of time walking on that razor’s edge of “privilege,” which is the Internet’s way of telling you to shut up and sit down because you are not truly capable of understanding anything different from yourself.  That view concerns me, but I don’t think I should be restricted to writing specific characters because of it. If I did, I’d be drowning in a book full of carbon copies of myself.  I think Rachel Peng is more interesting than I am, more compelling than I am, and has more to say than I do. But since I’m the one behind her decision-making and her dialogue, I need to understand those parts of her life which are different from mine.  And as I go over these old outlines and realize how many blank spaces need to be filled out, I’m sort of scared I’m going to mess very big parts of her character up in a very big way.

Anyhow.  That’s what I’m up to.  Yippee.

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