This past weekend was the third weekend in a row that I didn’t let myself do any work. My attempt at resting on the weekends has been a year-long journey, full of starts and stops, and many anxiety-ridden days where I failed to just be still. But rest, like everything, takes practice.
Stepping away from the work, even for short periods of time, is scary for me. But just because it makes me anxious and jittery and irritable doesn’t mean it’s wrong. And the good news? Those feelings do subside. Over time. After trying and failing and trying again. It gets easier.
What has also helped is coming to the realization that this need to hustle, to grind, to work myself to the bone, isn’t my true nature. It’s something that’s been shoved down my throat; forced onto my identity. It’s who capitalism wants me to be…but it isn’t me.
Now when I think of rest I think of it as a radical act. And I remind myself that I shouldn’t have to sell three books a year just to make it as an author. The financial inequities faced by authors of color in publishing is not a problem that can be fixed by my own overproduction. And that’s the goal, isn’t it? Not just that I can somehow figure out a way to continue writing and publishing full-time but that all authors from marginalized backgrounds can have that same option.
So it’s not on me to fix this. It’s on publishing.
Stop requiring significantly more labor from your marginalized authors in order for them to build careers. Stop putting it on marginalized creators to figure out how to navigate an obviously biased system. Throw out your P&L reports and commit to paying marginalized creators a living wage, not because of the slim chance you can make a return on your investment in a world where books by and about BIPOC are systematically at a disadvantage, but because it’s the right thing to do.
Because achieving equity doesn’t always make financial sense.
Justice doesn’t always turn a profit.
If you’re just a business, make that clear. But if you’re one of those businesses that came out publicly in support of Black lives, of the Latinx community, of the Asian community, and the Muslim community, and every other marginalized community that has experienced violence in recent years due to white supremacy and systemic racism then it’s time for you to give up some of that power you promised you would.
By taking care of the whole author. That means enough money to pay their rent, their bills, their physical and mental healthcare. Enough money to invest, to buy a home, to build wealth.
Take a look at your lists. How many of those authors deserve the chance to be fully supported by their work? How many of those authors could avoid burnout and the negative toll to their physical and mental health if you’d just make that happen? Yes. You.
You who gave a prince 20 million dollars for a memoir. You who gave a white woman with no connection to immigrants from Central America seven figures to write an extremely harmful version of their experiences. You who gave a multi-million dollar deal to a vice president who participated in the eroding of our democracy, in the practice of government sanctioned child abuse at the border, in the spread of misinformation during a deadly pandemic that killed hundreds of thousands of people.
You have the money to pay marginalized authors more than a living wage.
You have the money to pay assistants and editors and other publishing professionals what they’re actually worth.
You have the money to create an equitable and compassionate system.
You have the money to do what’s necessary.
You have the money to do what’s right.
So do it.