Some motivational speech for us all this morning.
It is a mantra in writing advice that you should never give away your writing for free. Writing as a specialised skillset has become so devalued by the interaction between cheapskate publishers and writers desperate to be published that it’s a race to the bottom to see if they can get us to pay them to publish us (oh, wait…). To try to mitigate this continual erosion of value in the writing field, experienced writers advise newbie writers to never give away their writing for free. This can be as strict as telling them to not keep a blog, write for friends, or write for charity newsletters and the like. It can also include not writing for less than a certain number of cents per word.
This is undoubtably good advice, especially for non-fiction, but also for fiction which is, if anything, even more devalued. But I recently came across something that puts it in a different light. Read the rest of this entry »
I don’t often write short stories and it’s even rarer that I (try to) sell any, so this is the first time I’ve been stuck with this issue: an editor has failed to pay me for a short story and is ignoring my follow-up emails. I’d give her the benefit of the doubt and suggest they might be being spammed, except I’ve tried a couple of different addresses now and also double-checked that my mail server is not blacklisted.
Sir Terry Pratchett recently gave the annual Richard Dimbleby lecture, the first novelist to do so. You can read an edited extract here, but I recommend committing the highly illegal act of watching it on uTube.
The speech was actually delivered by Tony Robinson. And this is because the rare form of Alzheimer’s disease that Sir Terry suffers from means that he has trouble reading. Can you imagine it? A writer, and he can’t read. And he’s still writing. Take some inspiration from that, writers. And some hope, for readers, that losing the ability to read the written word no longer means losing the joy of ‘reading’.
If I were talented, I’d do this with my insomnia. Instead, I shall point out a coincidence.
I’m chugging along with my next publication, final edit’s done, title’s chosen (Bastard’s Grace), tentative date is set for Feb 2010, I’m pleased with the uniqueness of my musket-totting part-hero, part-renegade male lead character in his 1700s world…
And then I spot this bad boy in a bookstore.
Read the rest of this entry »
I have a short story published in the new anthology, Futuristic Motherhood: Alternative Visions of Motherhood, speculative fiction stories about the future of motherhood. My contribution is about a woman coming home from a failed colony to meet the now-adult daughter she left behind on Earth.
ETA: the editor of this anthology did not pay me (and at least one other writer), so even if this anthology sounds like something you’d like to read, I’d appreciate it if you didn’t buy it off her.
So I was reading Pride and Prejudice and Zombies the other day, which I enjoyed, but which really just made me want to go back and re-read the original, and then a particular line caught my eye and I thought, I bet there’s Darcy/Bingley slash out there. And then another line caught my eye and I wondered about Darcy/Wickham slash.
And then there was Google.
And then I wished I could return to the days of my innocence when I did not, in fact, know that there is Darcy/Bingley/Wickham slash.
That is all.
ETA: I notice I am now getting a lot of hits from people searching for Darcy/Bingley slash. Hello, fellow pervy little hobbits. I’m a Darcy/Wickham fan myself, Bingley’s far too nice.
An article in the Guardian says, don’t patronise popular fiction by women. Patronise in the negative sense, not the positive sense.
The attitude talked about here, where women will read books aimed at women OR men, whereas men refuse to even try books written by or marketed to women, is so common as to be systematic. Little girls will happily read books with a male or female narrator/main character; little boys want male leads. Women will respond to ads with voice-overs by men or by women; men will ignore ads voiced by women (unless it’s an extremely sultry voice implying super hotness in an ad for alcohol). Men will get quite shitty with and contradict their GPS navigation system when the voice is female. I am not kidding. They did a study or something.
It’s not so much the automatic rejection, ‘that’s woman-focused, that’s not for me’ – marketing is about putting things into little boxes to reach who you think will buy it (and women buy books for themselves and others, and if men are sick of ‘chick-lit’ dominating the marketplace, they need to starting buying more books themselves). If you can’t bend your mind past the marketing to assess a product on its merits, that’s your issue. And on the other hand, if you’re not interested in a genre, no-one is forcing you to either read it or go online and whine about it.
It’s more the main thrust of the article, that the thought continues, ‘that’s woman-focused, that’s not for me…and therefore it’s crap’. If it’s not aimed at men, it must be trivial and shallow. It’s the same across the board, where women ‘gossip’ but men talk, and women ‘fritter’ their money away on shoes and beauty magazines and I don’t know, anything women like to buy, but men…what, invest in computer games and porn magazines?
So reading about women’s relationships and working life challenges is an empty, shallow pursuit, but reading about men’s relationships and working life challenges is worthy literature or high-brow humour or whatever. (Note: I tend not to read either genre as get bored with real-world settings, but if I avoid one like the plague it’s yet another literary recounting of a middle-aged man having a crisis at work and cheating on his wife).
It’s not breaking any new ground here to say women writers get dismissed as serious literature. And the fact that people reject and disparage a whole genre is hardly surprising (I’m over here in the SF/F ghetto myself, as a reader and a writer). It would just be nice if people could get past the ‘that’s different to my tastes, therefore it cannot be good’ mentality. Grow up, people.
I got a couple of hundred words written – nowhere near my target, but it is clear to me now that the target needs adjusting. The fact of the matter is, I’m currently trying to:
Should I be surprised that I can’t keep up with one WIP, let alone two.
So for starters, reluctantly, I’ve got to drop the second work, the one that was going quite easily. I didn’t really think it was wise to try to write two at once; I thought I could handle it, but I can’t; and if I drop the one that’s isn’t going easy, I think I’ll never get back to it.
And I will have to return to the mode of operation I used when I worked a full-time office job. I think I’m busy now, but hey, I wrote two novels in my spare time back then, so I should surely be able to handle it now.
So it’ll be smaller targets, and time devoted on weekends until I get this awful first draft finally finished…