Gene Luen Yang Shares Advice For Writing Outside of Your Culture

By Maryann Yin Comment

Gene Luen YangGraphic novelist Gene Luen Yang appeared at the Library of Congress’ 14th annual National Book Festival. During his time in Washington D.C., Yang delivered a presentation called “Asian-Americans in Comics” and gave a speech at the gala.

With his gala talk, Yang focused on the literary community’s ongoing conversation about diversity. Yang shared stories about Dwayne McDuffie, an African-American legend in comics, and encouraged all writers to add to the world’s collection of diversity literature.

The Nerds of Color blog has posted the entirety of Yang’s speech. Here’s an excerpt from the moving piece:

“We have to allow ourselves the freedom to make mistakes, including cultural mistakes, in our first drafts. I believe it’s okay to get cultural details wrong in your first draft. It’s okay if stereotypes emerge. It just means that your experience is limited, that you’re human.”

Yang advised that as long as authors do their homework and make sure to address all errors in the final draft, it’s okay to write about a culture outside of your own. He emphasized that fear should be viewed as motivation to work hard and not a blockade. What do you think?