Jenny Ruth writes literary fiction & nonfiction, and has the following manuscripts available for review:
“White And Working On It” I spent a decade working in college admissions. Higher education is a world obsessed with diversity and people in the minority, and I think that says a lot about those of us in the majority. My manuscript dives into the messy, necessary conversation about race happening in America right now, one in which many white people can’t keep up. We want to know better, to do better, and to be better. WHITE AND WORKING ON IT uses mostly funny, often embarrassing, and always instructive stories to walk well-intentioned white Americans through an exploration of their race. Think of a self-help/how-to manual disguised as memoir. It employs a structure and pace like Eula Biss’s On Immunity, an accessible and personable narration like Ta-Nehisi Coates’ Between the World and Me, and bluntly provocative ideas like Roxane Gay’s Bad Feminist. I’ve written 35,000 words with all the major pieces in place. I will have it fleshed out to 65,000 words by November of this year.
I was 28 the first time anyone asked me to identify my race. I couldn’t decide how to finish “I’m white, but…” It’s embarrassing to be blind to your own race when you work as an admissions counselor at a prestigious private university where discussions of race and privilege are baked into the job. So this white girl from rural Pennsylvania jumped into it head first, confronting friends and colleagues about our whiteness. Now I have stories to tell and lessons to pass along. I hang these entertaining stories on a hidden framework of racial identity development theory that supports the reader’s journey in three parts: an exploration of how to talk about race despite it being so difficult and uncomfortable for most white Americans; a deep look at a world constructed so we don’t have to think about our race; and an imagining of what life looks like when we embrace our identity and move forward.
“Merit-Based”– Lauryn Trumble is a young admissions officer at her prestigious alma mater. Daily interactions with eager students, desperate parents and unpredictable co-workers causes her to care too much, drink too much and smoke too often. She begrudgingly becomes roommates with the new hire, Margarita “Margie” Mercado, who she initiates into the arena of hyper-competitive admissions at one of the country’s most selective small liberal arts colleges. Then she starts an affair with a married professor.
Margie must wrestle with office politics and the educational system’s use of identity–two systems that value many things above merit. Struggling to understand her place as a young Latina in this privileged world, Margie concentrates on her weight, her heritage, and building a solid career path she can control.
Backdropped by the 2008 presidential campaign and collapse of the financial system, Lauryn and Margarita battle a boss obsessed with application numbers and acceptance rates, the campus Republican club’s plan to host a year-long series of ultra-conservative pundits speaking about race in modern America, and the annual onslaught of over-involved parents who plague the millennial generation. They each react in their own ways, and the consequences give them reason to take control of their lives.