I do not believe in ghosts or fairies or aliens.
But I do believe there’s a type of magic around reading and writing. Perhaps ‘fate’ is a better word for it.
How else to describe the way books find you when you need them most? Or how you can write a story where later you discover connections, or establish truths, or say something profound about humanity, that you had not actually realised yourself.
Somehow, it feels like it was all meant to be, even when it is beyond our control.
This week, I experienced that magic both in terms of reading and writing.
For some reason my reading all (unintentionally) seemed to focus around gender this week.
It began with a beautiful piece by Laurie Steed, guest posting on the blog of fellow Australian writer, Lee Koffman. The internet is full of women with advice and stories about what it’s like to be a writing mother. I should know, I’m one of them. While I find these blogs inspiring, I think it’s easy to forget that there are writing dads out there, who face their own set of challenges, not least of which is trying to provide, financially, for the family.
I’m a dad-writer, just slightly above being a dad-mime, in terms of current earning ability. Up till now, I’ve constantly and continually backed myself, writing for love while working for pay; scrawling stories on the back of receipts while delivering cartons of beer to old men whose houses smelled of boiled beef; mastering my craft while the rest of the state rode the mining boom.
Read the full piece here.
But before we go round feeling too sorry for the dad-writers, let’s remember that the publishing industry is still very much a man’s world.
Each year, organisers of the Stella Prize (for Australian women writers) do a survey of reviews-by-gender in the Australian media. Here, Aviva Tuffield summarises the results.
“Overall the 2014 Stella Count reveals, once again, that books by men are reviewed more often in the mainstream media than books by women, and confirms a pattern identified last year that male reviewers are much more likely to review books written by male authors. This year we measured size of reviews, which demonstrates that books by men are also much more likely to receive longer and more in-depth reviews. Thus, it seems that books by men and women are often treated differently in terms of review coverage when several factors are taken into account – the gender of the reviewer, the size of review and the genre of the book reviewed – all of which are cause for concern.”
Read the full post here
And, if you need any more proof, read this alarming post from Catherine Nichols about the difference in response to her manuscript when she sent it out under a male nom de plume.
You can probably guess what happened…
After reading three fairly harrowing books, back to back, I got my chick-lit on this week (not my favoured term, but good for shorthand) with two super-fun and frothy reads.
The first was March, by Sunni Overend (BTW – how gorge is that cover?). If you liked The Devil Wears Prada, then you’ll want to nab this faster than a half price pair of Jimmy Choos (and if you don’t know who Jimmy Choo is, don’t bother..)
I think March is perhaps the first self-published book I’ve ever read. And it was a cracker. The author, Sunni Overend, now has a two book publishing deal and I hope to bring you more of her story later this week.
My other foray into the world of fun was through Georgia Madden’s Confessions of a Once Fashionable Mum.
Georgia is absolutely pun-tastic, and there are some serious LOL moments that even the most zen of green-juice-drinking mums will be able to relate to.
Well, I sat my little bum down and tapped out that short story I’ve been thinking about for a while.
The first draft was crap. But after a good, five-day, think about it, I came back and produced another draft that is now getting a lot closer to where it needs to be.
I showed it to my husband, and expressed some reservations about the ending, which he confirmed. Then, out of the blue, came one of those magic lightning bolts. That spark of inspiration. That little link which would bring the whole thing together. And it had been staring me in the face pretty much the whole time.
Like I say. Magic.