bell hooks is one of my favorite people. I have several of books. I heard her during my first week as a student at Hampton University, long before I knew what a great education was. And I listened to her at Northwestern a few years ago. She’s always engaging, insightful, brilliant, loving, and fearless. If you are a writer and haven’t met her printed work, you must. If you’re interested in learning about love, read her. Here’s a passage from Remembered Rapture: The Writer at Work. Her words would be considered opposite what I’ve read and learned relative to publishing, which makes her counsel all that more valuable when it comes to writing.
Writers should not dwell on the issue of audience. However, it is essential for any writer who wants to speak to a general audience without perpetuating structures of domination to write in a manner that welcomes any reader. Writers do not need to worry about whether our words can carry us across the boundaries of race, sex, and class. Words invite us to transgress–to move beyond the world of the ordinary. If that were not so the world of the book would have no meaning. This does not mean that writers should not be vigilant about the way we use words. Here the old truism “It’s not what you say but how you say it” holds. Irrespective of the subject matter, whether it reflects a common experience or not, readers are capable of great empathy. Writers must trust that readers are ready to receive our words–to grapple with the strange and unfamiliar or to know again what is already known in new ways.