Tuesday, February 11, 2020

Writing from an Informed Cultural Point of View


By Traci Sorell

Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines culture two ways. Its first definition contains six subparts, with the first one of those having its own four components.

In reviewing the definition, it reminded me of the work we do as nonfiction writers to scaffold our stories. There is the overarching topic, but there are numerous subparts and components of information we need to sift through and understand to craft a factual story for publication.

As I begin brainstorming an idea, I ask myself questions related to what I read as components of the first definition’s subpart.



I start with examining my own intersectional cultures in relation to the story I am writing. I belong to many, but there are always gaps between what I’m writing about and my lived experience in my overlapping identities. 

In working on my upcoming book about the first Native American female engineer in the United States, Trailblazer: Mary Golda Ross, Cherokee Female Engineer, I knew we shared the same heritage as citizens of the Cherokee Nation and as women, and we had both left our tribal homeland for educational and professional opportunities elsewhere. But I had no training as a mathematician like Mary, nor had I blazed a trail in aerospace engineering, a field created during the time she worked in it. This appeared to be a formidable culture gap.


Yet I found my way into the story. I reached out to her first cousin, who shared valuable information, including that her non-classified work files, tools, photographs, and other memorabilia had been donated to her undergraduate alma mater close to me. Even though I had researched her life, I didn’t feel close to the engineering culture she inhabited until I read through thick, three-ring binders of her handwritten equations and the NASA books on interplanetary space travel. I also held her slide rule and thumbed through books she referenced. The concepts in her notebooks showed me her incredible mind, work ethic, and persistence in her field across decades – even though I did not understand all the complicated formulas and equations detailed within the binders.

Tip #1: Take stock of the gaps between the cultures you belong to and the cultures represented in the work you are writing. What assumptions, stereotypes, and lack of knowledge/vocabulary do you bring to the work? Budget significant extra time to make connections to cultures you do not share in order to present the facts accurately and craft a complete story. Be aware of primary sources about a culture written by those outside of it, which can be highly problematic and not factual.

Once I have evaluated myself in relation to the subject, I remind myself about the culture of nonfiction itself and how my approach to the story must be influenced by it.

1c. the set of values, conventions, or social practices associated with a particular field, activity or societal characteristic

Within the world of nonfiction, writers focus on the facts. Not invented dialogue, not manufactured memories, not giving anthropomorphic characteristics to non-human creatures or objects and definitely not shaping the facts (events, timeline, etc.) to fit the story we want to tell. Adhering to those tenets are part of the shared values and practices that define the field. I am diligent about that work because fellow nonfiction authors and readers depend on me practicing and maintaining that focus within the shared culture of nonfiction writing for children and teens. If I didn’t do that and if you didn’t, how could our audience rely on what we craft as fact?

One of my nonfiction writing challenges comes from my love of poetry and preference for writing picture books in a sparse, lyrical style. I must be extremely careful with word choice. Choosing one word that may be easier to understand or sound better when read aloud may not reflect reality and the facts of the story.

I regularly wrestle with my former self, who wrote academic, legal, and policy papers with lengthy explanations and copious footnotes. It is critical to understand your subject well enough to know what words can and cannot be employed in the story to reflect the facts. Similarly, balancing what to include within the story versus what to include in the back matter or cut from the book entirely requires careful evaluation. Less is not always best, but neither is including more in some cases.
   
Tip #2: What tools do you need to tell the story? How do you plan to gather the resources to tell the facts? What experts do you need to connect with to help determine that your story does not include factual gaps considered critical by those from that culture? Even if you are very knowledgeable on the subject, what other experts can you ask to review your work, fact-check your word choice and explanations, and examine the substance of what you’ve written?

Culture, like nonfiction writing, is multilayered. The intersecting cultures of the author come through in what is crafted on the page. It is imperative that we as authors sift through our own layers of identities, personally and professionally, as well as inform ourselves about those outside of our experience in order to create and deliver factual stories to our readers.

SOURCES


ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Traci Sorell writes fiction and nonfiction books as well as poems for children. Her 2018 debut nonfiction picture book We Are Grateful: Otsaliheliga, illustrated by Frané Lessac, won an Orbis Pictus Honor, a Sibert Honor, and a Boston Globe-Horn Book Honor. In 2021, Traci will release her next two nonfiction picture books: We Are Still Here, illustrated by Frané Lessac (Charlesbridge), and Trailblazer: Mary Golda Ross, Cherokee Aerospace Engineer, illustrated by Natasha Donovan (Millbrook). For more information about her work, visit www.tracisorell.com.



ABOUT THE PRIZE

Traci Sorell will be awarding a signed copy of We Are Grateful: Otsaliheliga.

Leave one comment below about what struck you in the post.

You’re eligible to win if you’re a registered NF Fest participant and you have contributed one comment below.    

149 comments:

  1. Thank you for giving me so much to think about! As someone who also writes lyrical nonfiction, I also find that sometimes the word I want to use that sounds good as a poet, isn't the most accurate. I just called someone over the weekend to verify if one word was more accurate than another in my WIP. I'm so grateful for the work you are putting out there for our children! We are reading AT THE MOUNTAIN'S BASE and INDIAN NO MORE in our Teachers as Readers group this month at my school.

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  2. Thank you, Traci, for reminding us how our own cultural background plays into doing the necessary research. Congratulations on the honors for We Are Grateful and your newest two coming out soon.

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  3. This is a very thoughtful post. I especially like the comments on word choice. There are so many things to consider!
    Gail Hartman

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  4. Using the multi-layered definition of culture to guide self-examination and direct one's research feels like a fresh and powerful way to approach nonfiction projects. Traci, thank you for sharing this and for your wonderful true stories.

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  5. Thank you for these reminders of the great responsibility authors have when creating works of nonfiction. So much to consider.

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  6. Thank you for the insightful lesson.

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  7. These points are significant to consider. Not only realizing that my gaps in knowledge exist, but what they are as well, then researching heavily to fill in those gaps properly. Plus, having my words carefully reviewed and vetted can help to add yet another layer of thoroughness. Thanks for a great post on a timely topic!

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  8. Thank you for your advice as I delve into the early research of my subject. Congratulations on your book!

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  9. Thank you, Traci, for your fabulous advice on cultural point of view. I love your tips, particularly about word choice and staying true to the culture of nonfiction writing. I also struggle with my former academic-writing self, and it can be tricky shifting from that style. It still creeps in all the time!

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  10. You, your work and your books are invaluable to us all Traci as writers, readers and citizens of the world. Thank you for sharing your insights in this post!

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  11. Fill in the gaps = important and helpful advice, Traci! I love how you got close to Mary Golda Ross by looking through her things. I'm super excited to read your new books!

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  12. Brilliant and timely post, Traci. I will send people here when they ask if they "Can" write from a different cultural POV.

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  13. Great points, clearly explained. I had a "former self" as well and find it's like being two people.

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  14. 'Culture, like nonfiction writing, is multilayered.' ~ Such a good point!

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  15. I look forward to your next books too. Love,We Are Grateful and now knowing the behind the scenes indepth research you did, makes it even more appealing. I look forward to your,Trailblazer: Mary Golda Ross, Cherokee Female Engineer.
    I just read, Wilma's Way Home, The Life of Wilma Mankiller, Doreen Rappaport/Linda Kukuk a

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  16. Writing about another culture is challenging. Thank you for this advice, Traci.

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  17. I really like your POV about honoring the shared values and practices that define the field by sticking to the facts (not inventing things). Also, you make such a good point about word choice and choosing words for accuracy, not simplicity or the way they sound. Thank you for this thoughtful post, Traci.

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  18. Thank you for sharing the many meanings of culture a writer needs to honor. This is a very thoughtful post.

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  19. Insightful tips, Traci, and I'm looking forward to reading Trailblazer: Mary Golda Ross, Cherokee Female Engineer. I, too, wrestle with my former self, who wrote for a daily newspaper and trade magazines (industrial chemicals and kitchen & bath design)--word choice and balancing what to include are always a challenge.

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  20. Much appreciated as librarian that you take the time to craft a truthful and authentic story.

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  21. Language is the tool for connecting us but if not chosen carefully it can in fact lead to divisiveness and conflict. I appreciate your practical tips for refining our language as children's writers to build a better understanding of our diverse cultures and worlds.

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  22. I'll admit that some NF is a little daunting (for me as a writer) just because of the culture (ie. STEM). But there are ways "in" and I appreciate your tips, Traci, thanks.

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  23. I appreciate how Traci went beyond her own experience to better understand Mary Golda Ross.

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  24. A colleague and I have written a non-fiction book about a culture that existed before written language. All of our information comes from notes, photos and research done by archaeologists. Since no known ancestors of this culture are alive today to confirm or deny these theories, are we treading in dangerous waters or are we home free?

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  25. What great tips you gave us! Thanks for sharing this wonderful post.

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  26. This is wonderful. I definitely feel the imposter syndrome even as I am writing about women from my own cultural group. You clarified why that feeling exists and now I can embrace it instead of feeling overwhelmed by it. Thank you.

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  27. Thanks so much for your tips. It reminds me of the importance of evaluating your own bias to ensure you don't frame your story using an inaccurate perspective.

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  28. Traci triggered a memory in my cultural background (Appalachian) that is important to writing my story with honesty and integrity. I, too, struggle with the formal style of writing I used in my vocation.

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  29. What a deep look at culture! Great tips for gaining better insight into our writing and our biases.

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  30. Thank you for this thought-provoking post, Traci. I appreciate your focus on the multiple layers of culture and that as writers, we need to take the time to study and honor that. I also appreciate your advice on taking stock of our own cultures and recognizing their impact on our stories.

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  31. Thank you Traci. This reminded me to take note of the various cultures I belong to.

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  32. Thank you for the thoughtful post. So important for us to be mindful of the many cultures in the world, and what we bring to the table with our own experiences.

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  33. Traci, Thanks for the wonderful tip. After all the research is done and with the numerous revisions of a piece I think making sure to pull in other experts is very valuable for verification that one has presented all the facts accurately.

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  34. This post really gets to the heart of the difficulty of writing about something from outside the culture. The controversy over AMERICAN DIRT is forefront these days. Interesting to see how that shakes out, but I notice it is the #1 best seller this week. I have yet to read the book so have no comment and certainly no right to do so since I'm as far from being an immigrant as possible. But it does bring to mind the quip that there is no such thing as bad publicity. And that's a problematic statement in itself!

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  35. "Culture, like nonfiction writing, is multilayered." Very important point. That entire last paragraph, well, the entire post, gives a lot of great insights and points to consider. Thank you very much for this post.

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  36. Thanks for this thoughtful and thought provoking post. It takes time to dig deep.

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  37. Thanks for this thoughtful and thought provoking post. It takes time to dig deep.

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  38. Wow. Thank you for sharing this thoughtful post.

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  39. Thank you for showing how broad the word "culture" is. Early in my career, I was a female engineer, and yes, engineering is a culture of its own, as is any occupation. Figuring out a way to connect with all of the cross-cultural nuances of our subjects is important, and does, indeed, take the kind of research that provides insight and the feeling that we have in some way empathized, understood, and made specific the aspects of the person/place/thing that deserves the telling of the unique story that gets at the truth, albeit filtered through the writer's eyes.

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  40. Thanks for this thoughtful and thought-provoking post.

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  41. Very insightful post! Thanks!

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  42. Thanks for your insight. I purchased We Are Grateful and I love it.I know that you do lots of research and questioning, but I'm grateful that you're writing about your culture.

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  43. Thank you for your insightful post. I have to make a list of any cultural groups I may belong to beyond the obvious ones inherited from my parents.

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  44. Wow! I felt a sense of hope from your article. There are so many minority stories that need to be told. I love your point of finding a way into the story. Thanks so much

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  45. I find that tackling cultural issues when I don't share the background can be intimidating. Thanks for sharing tips to help bridge the gap.

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  46. Traci, thank you for these tips! Be Inspired, Nicki Jacobsmeyer

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  47. The first tip to carefully evaluated back matter is so important. I especially like, "Less is not always best, but neither is more in some cases."

    Thank you, Traci.

    Suzy Leopold

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  48. I am grateful for the insights and tips, Traci. Thank you for sharing - especially how you approached bridging the "engineering culture" gap...

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  49. I think the questions about what tools I need are most helpful. Both literal and figurative tools will help me tell a better story.

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  50. Yes to finding experts and sensitivity readers to help with our word choices. It is surprising how our words can be seen as romanticizing another culture.

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  51. Traci, I've been waiting for your post! Perfect guidance on a tricky aspect of the craft and passion of capturing cultures in NF. So well done, priceless advice.

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  52. Thank you for this thought-provoking post! 🙂

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  53. Thanks for a very interesting perspective by which to break down the elements. I appreciate using the definition as a guide.

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  54. Traci, thank you for the great post and you help navigating uncertain waters!

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  55. An interesting post with lots to consider. What stood out to me was your advice to be aware of primary sources about a culture written by people outside of that culture and that the source may not always be factual.

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  56. I am learning so much about the non-fiction process. Thanks you, Traci, for explaining how to bridge cultural gaps and giving tips on what tools to use in telling the non-fiction story.

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  57. I enjoyed this informative post about culture. What stuck out to me was your tip: "Take stock of the gaps between the cultures you belong to and the cultures represented in the work you are writing." Very rich. Thank you also for the book giveaway opportunity.

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  58. Thank you for reminding us to look at our biases and stereotypes when writing nonfiction. Very good advice.

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  59. Thank you for bringing these very important considerations forward. I was also very encouraged when you shared that you sometimes wrestle with your former writer self. I have also spent many years writing in situations that allowed generous word use and fight the same battle. You are my evidence that that part of me can be wrestled into submission!

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  60. Thank you for your thoughtful, insightful post on a very timely topic that writers need to consider to make sure their writing is fully researched.

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  61. Traci's whole piece resonated, but this line particularly stuck with me: "Choosing one word that may be easier to understand or sound better when read aloud may not reflect reality and the facts of the story." I wrestle with that a lot in my writing.

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  62. Thanks for this valuable perspective on writing and culture. It resonated with me on many levels, but I especially appreciate your advice to "sift through our own layers of identity." Writing demands of us much self-reflection and consideration of how, as you say, "culture is multi-layered."

    Celia Viramontes

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  63. Great post, Traci. I'm loving learning more about non-fiction, and realize that I teeter towards fiction in my pb biographies. I like this point. 'Choosing one word that may be easier to understand or sound better when read aloud may not reflect reality and the facts of the story.'

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  64. Excellent reminder to be aware of the nuances in culture and the importance of finding primary sources that accurately reflect the culture we are researching. Thank you! Priscilla

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  65. I'm glad you didn't say that a writer absolutely shouldn't write about a culture to which she doesn't belong. Someday I hope to share the story of a Ute woman who spent time in my town, but I understand the #ownvoices movement, and I don't think the time is right for me. Maybe in the future. Thank you for raising some important points to consider.

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  66. Great information. Thanks so much for sharing!

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  67. Thanks for these important reminders, Traci! There are so many pieces to getting the nonfiction puzzle right--but it's so satisfying when we take the time to do the work in a way that presents the most complete picture possible to young readers.

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  68. Thank you for the tips. I particularly appreciate the reminder to take stock in the gaps that we have.

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  69. I read and enjoyed We Are Grateful: Otsaliheliga for Cybils in 2018. I remember being struck by the depth of your back matter. Thank you so much for sharing the details of your research methods, too.

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  70. Traci, You have sounded a clarion call to all of us. Thank you!

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  71. So much to think about here. Thank you for pointing out the many ways we might have gaps in our connection to our nf topics. -Sara Ackerman

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  72. Traci, you described all the parts to make a complete factual story for publication. Thank you.

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  73. This is very helpful information and food for thought as I write my story of a well-known cultural experience.

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  74. You make such a great point. If you're going to write about someone or something from another culture, it's important to get it right.
    -Ashley Congdon

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  75. The point that the word that sounds best may not be the right word for meaning was really helpful. Thanks!

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  76. It was encouraging that you found a way "into the story" despite the gaps. Thank you!

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  77. Traci, thank you for breaking this down. Great tips for bridging our gaps with our subjects.

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  78. A really good reminder of the need to explore not only our subject, but ourselves, when we are writing. Thank you.

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  79. Thank you for sharing your valuable insights.

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  80. Great post, Traci! Thank you for your insights on the multiple layers of culture and how one can find ones way into a story. I liked your tips on how to bridge the cultural gap through word choice, especially "Choosing one word that may be easier to understand or sound better when read aloud may not reflect reality and the facts of the story."

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  81. Thank you for your very thoughtful post. I think it's incredibly important that we think about culture in this complex and intersectional way. The line that most stood out to me was: "Be aware of primary sources about a culture written by those outside of it, which can be highly problematic and not factual."

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  82. Thanks for this insightful post. Lots to think about.

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  83. So interesting and thanks for illuminating so many of the levels to consider!

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  85. Do so wish that the house of the person I'm researching hadn't been torn down - personal library, desk and all . . . You bring the challenge, of tracking down more about my character, into clear focus.

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  86. Thank you for your insight. What struck me is relating to how to distill all that you've researched and could put in the story - to simplify - when less is better and how to decide what goes in the back matter. I struggle with the same thing.

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  87. Minding the gaps and what knowledge needs to be filled in by others from a culture or a discipline is such an important concept, Traci. Ty for all these ways to ponder a story before real researcher writing can begin. You are amazing.

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  88. Really loved these two sentences: "I regularly wrestle with my former self, who wrote academic, legal, and policy papers with lengthy explanations and copious footnotes. It is critical to understand your subject well enough to know what words can and cannot be employed in the story to reflect the facts." Thank you!

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  89. Overall the systems of organization. Specifically, the timelines. I always think I can remember it all, sadly that rarely happens. Thanks for giving me the tool I need.

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  90. Thank you for your guidance. Remembering culture brings life into non-fiction.

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  91. Traci, thank you so much for this post. I, too, love and write lyrical text, and appreciated your reminder to be mindful of the words we choose...to make sure they stick to the facts, even though we feel they might enhance the meaning, sounds, and rhythm of a piece. Thank you!

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  92. How important to know who you are and where you are coming from as you approach your topic and to do the same for each source you use so that you can route out implicit bias as you create your works and keep nonfiction factual from all perspectives. (Or at least try our hardest to do so.)

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  93. Great insights in considering our own relationship to our subjects, and the importance of every word in nf. Thank you!

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  94. Thanks for sharing your detailed approach to writing about your subjects--thinking about each source we use and our own experiences. I will take to heart the tip about watching that lyrical language does not go beyond the facts.

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  95. This got me thinking about all the different areas of interest that we can share with our subjects. It's not just a single cultural aspect that's important -- although that is where the focus is today -- but it's subject matter, religious beliefs, environmental similarities, the list goes on. We must think beyond race and color to find other areas of common ground with the people we write about.

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  96. Thank you, Traci, for a very insightful post!

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  97. So much to think about when researching and writing about a person! I've always felt unqualified to write about a person who is so unilke me, but you've given me ideas and tools, as well as a boost of confidence, that I can try.

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  98. Traci, I am especially impressed by your your emphasis on having "awareness of factual gaps considered critical by those from the culture" and finding your own personal way into a story (based initially on personal cultural commonalities). Thank you for your detailed insight.

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  99. I was glad to read a post on this important subject. Thank you!

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  100. "Be aware of primary sources about a culture written by those outside of it, which can be highly problematic and not factual." All your tips reached out to me, especially this one. Thank you, Traci, for your valuable insight concerning writing outside of one's culture.

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  101. Thank you Traci. You post is extremely informative. I'm so glad you chose this subject to write about.

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  102. So important and I needed some of these ideas! Thank you!

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  103. Traci, I love how you said “intersecting cultures” and “overlapping identities” terms I can connect with and will remember. Thank you for the detailed post. 😀

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  104. These are great tips! They are helping me become more conscious of y craft in writing NF books

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  105. "Choosing one word that may be easier to understand or sound better when read aloud may not reflect reality and the facts of the story." This, and finding common ground with our subjects, really stood out for me - this is the hard work, no? Thank you for this post!

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  106. Hmmm... This post really gives me a lot to think about. Although I don't necessarily "see" the cultural gap between myself and my subject, when I look closer, I notice the small cracks in my viewpoint. As Lydia mentioned above, becoming more conscientious of these differences and gaps will help me dig deeper into the research as I retell these parts of the story.

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  107. Thank you, Traci. So helpful. This is an aspect that must be handled well.

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  108. I absolutely loved We Are Grateful! I will be rereading your post over and over to remind me that “less is not always best, but neither is including more in some cases”. Thanks for all your insight!

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  109. "Budget significant extra time to make connections to cultures you do not share in order to present the facts accurately and craft a complete story. Be aware of primary sources about a culture written by those outside of it, which can be highly problematic and not factual." Love this advice as I'm writing a biography outside of my culture.

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  110. Nice post -- and the reminder to examine what assumptions, stereotypes, and lack of knowledge/vocabulary I bring to the work

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  111. I was touched by her statement that we depend on each other for strong and accurate research to tell the best story possible.

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  112. Thank you, Traci, for sharing your insights & tips on how best we can keep to the facts, including the realization that we may not fully understand the truth in a story due to our own cultural differences from the subject and/or their world, and that research is a way to overcome this issue.

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  113. Traci, as a poet myself, the part of this post that really resonated with me was your insight into the challenge of presenting nonfiction information accurately when you are working with simple, lyrical language. This statement is so true: "Choosing one word that may be easier to understand or sound better when read aloud may not reflect reality and the facts of the story." Nonfiction poetry puts the nuances of language under the microscope!!

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  114. Thanks for an excellent post, Traci! You know I love your work. This sentence really resonated: “Culture, like non-fiction writing, is multi-layered.” Thanks for adding light to some of these complex layers.

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  115. Thank you for giving tips on how to overcome culture gaps. Great read.

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  116. Being aware that our own perspectives and filters can distort the picture we are creating is a valuable insight. Having tools to help us overcome that challenge is invaluable. Thank you Traci.

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  117. I think it's wonderful you tackle difficult books with such lovely success!

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  118. A thought provoking piece on intersecting identities, experiences, and cultures. Brava!

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  119. an important post. Thank you for sharing your insight.

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  120. "Be aware of primary sources about a culture written by those outside of it, which can be highly problematic and not factual." This is a great tip!

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  121. Thanks for writing about this complex subject. I hope it inspires more writers to do deep and expansive research.

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  122. This is a wonderful and important post. I often wonder about primary sources outside of a culture. Thanks for the reminder that it can be a problem.

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  123. I appreciated approaching culture from multiple angles. Thanks for the advice about word choice and not shaping facts to fit the story we want to tell.

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  124. Interesting story! I wonder how Ms Ross's upbringing & cultural points of view made her look at interplanetary travel vs someone with a different background. What part, if any, did it play in her own views & research? I'm sure it's hard to define. Regardless, each one of us brings our own culture/morays to the table every day. Interplanetary travel is pretty cool, nevertheless! Really looking fwd to reading about her!

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  125. Oh, making connections in life is so important. Making connections to help our writing also helps create more understanding of cultural differences between your own and others.

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  126. After reading this, I have to rethink about how I approach a subject and also the words I choose to tell the story. I'm basically thinking I will have to change the angle I'm coming at in my story, as it may be too complicated. This has given me thoughts to grow on. Thank you.

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  127. A very thoughtful post, Traci! Cultural layers make writing challenging, yet it's an opportunity to explore the depth of humanity, so has to be very satisfying at the same time.

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  128. I loved your book WE ARE GRATEFUL, and I feel grateful for the way you reminded us to think about our topics and subjects. It is important!

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  129. Thoughtful and insightful post about the multilayered topic of culture in children's books. Thank you!

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  130. Thanks, Tracy. This is an area I hadn't even thought about as I researched an individual from the past. I'll have to take the time period and the culture both into consideration and make sure I portray it accurately.

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  131. You make very interesting points. Maria Johnson

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  132. As a child, I was fascinated by different cultures and loved reading books about them. Thanks for taking the time to do it right! It's a gift to readers.

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  133. Lovely, thoughtful, post that is making me think deeper about connections and cultures. Thank you.

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  134. Thank you for the reminder to be aware of my own biases and blind spots in my writing! It's an important point to remember.

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  135. Thank you for offering tips to keep our writing factual, and gap-free.

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  136. I thought of the facts when I researched my debut book, but I didn't think of culture. I was lucky - my main character and I came from the same home town, same background, but I'm nowhere near as math/science talented as Neil Armstrong was. I worked hard to understand the wind tunnel he built as a sixteen year old. BTW - he modeled it after the Wright Brothers, the one that helped them be first in flight.

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  137. Thanks for the tips! The subject of my PB bio isn't from a different culture, but since she lived over a hundred years ago, there are lots of cultural differences due to societal changes over time.

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  138. Traci, I appreciated your perspective on cultural point of view, and your statement "Culture, like nonfiction writing, is multilayered." stood out to me. I have an old historical fiction manuscript in the early stages, and was actually wondering how to turn it into a nonfiction piece. I introduced a secondary characters, who is Native American. But, I never felt like I was doing him justice. Your post will help me look at him again, do more research--hoping to find a true life character--and give him the attention he deserves. I also appreciated the point you made about not knowing about aerospace engineering. Even the fields of expertise we research need to be respected and thoroughly researched to be understood. Thanks for the insight!

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  139. What an interesting way to look at culture, using the Merriam-Webster Dictionary’s definition as scaffolding. Thank you, Traci, for examining the” gaps between what I’m writing about and my lived experience in my overlapping identities.”

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  140. Thank you for the thoughtful tips on how to approach covering culture. It's a topic I'm think about a lot and so appreciate your perspective and approach.

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  141. Traci, I love the thoughtfulness with which you crafted this post. You completely conveyed the importance of doing deep research into facts and cultural representations. Thank you!

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  142. Very interesting to hear about what biases we bring to the work – how we identify with our subjects, quite consciously, but also asking ourselves: ‘what are my blindspots?’.

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  143. "Be aware of primary sources about a culture written by those outside of it, which can be highly problematic and not factual." I just returned this book to the library. Thanks for sharing!

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  144. Great food for thought, Traci, and so timely to a project I'm working on!

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  145. Thank you so much for such a fascinating and thought provoking post. I have a lot to ponder!

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