"I've always wanted to write a banned book..."
"I just had my first book banned! I'm so excited!"
This week is Banned Books Week. It is when we celebrate, not the status of being banned, but the books themselves. Yet, while I wish I could file the above quotes under the title 'Things Writers Would Never Say,' I cannot.
Throughout history and across the globe, people have fought to silence the voices of authors and breed ignorance. Even now, all over the world, censorship and the banning of books is still rife.
So we strive. We band together and stand up against those who would seek to ban books. We embrace and share stories. We celebrate them. However, there are still many writers - both published and aspiring - who yearn to have one of their own books reach banned status. They hope to join the ranks of numerous great authors and novels who have graced the ever-growing list of banned books.
To desire your own book to be banned is to inadvertently ask for the increase of censorship. It is to place your own validation in the hands of people who would keep your writing from those you most want to reach. Yes, many prodigious authors have had their books banned, but a banned book is not a ticket to the cool kids' table. There is no exclusive club you need a VIP pass for. We are a collective, celebrating and promoting the power and unification of literature.
Authors today who have their books banned are uninvited from speaking at schools and events. Their work is actively kept from reaching people - of all ages - who need to read them most. Teenagers who feel alienated. Children who don't see themselves represented in mainstream media. People of all genders, sexualities, and denominations, who are oppressed, assaulted, imprisoned, and killed because of who they are and what they believe in. These authors don't revel in the status of having a banned book. They stand up against censorship so that their words might make it into the hands of someone who will feel connected, empowered and inspired because of them.
Banned Books Week does not exist to promote books in order to turn a profit or create a string of "controversial best-sellers." It is vital because we are elevating literature and fighting against censorship.
Embrace banned books - read them, support them, share them - but don't make a banned book your dream. Make it your goal to write a book that can be accessed by anyone, and do everything in your power to make that possible.
What are your thoughts? Is having a book banned something to aspire to?