By Guest Contributor Laina Dawes, adapted from a post at Writing For Fighting
A little over three years ago, it was suggested that instead of the documentary I wanted to produce on Black women in the metal scene, that I write a book. With no filmmaking experience and no one responding to my pitches, it seemed like a good idea. As I had already published a number of articles on the subject, the first thing I did was to talk to as many people as I could.
Because there are not many Black women out there into the extreme musical scenes, and while as a lifelong fan and music journalist I had an idea of what I would like to read about in a book, I wanted to get the opinions of others to flesh out a cohesive non-fiction book of ideas that I thought that everyone – regardless of whether they were into metal, hardcore and/or punk, would find something that they could relate to.
The subject ideas came pretty easily. Issues of sexism and racism immediately came to mind, but I needed some….well, at the time, ‘validation’ wasn’t the word that came to mind, but I needed to hear other experiences in the scene and hoped that they would somehow resemble mine. The twenty or so people I interviewed during my research phase (men and women industry workers and fans of various ethnicities) helped me solidify my ideas and eventually gave me the confidence to buckle down and start putting a proposal together.
As I write this, the manuscript is at the publishers and I’m completing the final touches, but I recently realized that there is a huge difference in actually writing about some of the social dynamics that involve being Black in an environment in which ‘fitting in’ takes more of a concerted effort, versus experiencing sometimes troublesome situations in real life. As a journalist, I am used to focusing my attentions on the subject matter at hand, versus my experiences shaping the writing. So while I could yes, add my own experiences in the book as an aside to the issues that my interviewees experienced, When similar situations happened in real life, I still found myself scratching my head, just as frustrated as though I had never thought something possible could ever happen. Continue reading