I'm working on a novel right now, a science fiction book that takes place in the late 2030's, about artificial intelligence and the robot civil rights movement. It centers mostly around the AIs that grew out of increasingly sophisticated false profiles on Facebook, which eventually became so personlike they achieved self-awareness. They're not the only AIs in the book, but the major AI characters are all that type, because they behave most like humans. And in researching for the book, as well as just in a lot of my free time, I've read a lot about what it's like to be a member of a visible minority. About the experience of women, black people, disabled people, and so on.
And I think I've got enough of a handle on what that experience is like to write about it. But I still don't have any firsthand experience with it. I'm marginalized in some ways -- nongendered, bisexual, atheist, but those are all the other kind of marginalized group -- the kind with closets. To look at me, I'm a white male of above abject-poverty means.
So I'm glad I'm not writing directly about a real marginalized group. (Depending on your views about the future, I'm still at least not writing about a yet-real marginalized group.) I don't think I've got anywhere near the competence to do that successfully. But it's still hard to get things right.
I guess that's why I'm writing this post -- it feels hard to write, sometimes. I think I need the reminder that that's because it is hard. Both because it's worth the effort to write the best book I can, and because, hopefully, pushing myself to understand it well enough to write this book will make me a little better able to understand the experience of most of my fellow human beings.