September 27th, 2010


Some reading - Part 1

I love that people send me links and articles to things they think I'll find interesting. They're usually right it's just that it takes me a while to sit down and read them all. I've done a bit of that this weekend. Thanks for all the interesting reading peeps!

Robin sent me this article on Why Can't an American Woman Write the Great American novel?

This article by Laura Miller is fascinating in coming back to something we mentioned on Galactic Suburbia from Joanna Russ's How to Suppress Women's Writing in talking about how in America, there is no class system, all women have to do their share of the housework so they have no time to write. And talking about how in England those women who did write came from better classes which had servants and so they had the time to write and not do as many domestic duties. So... class equality but not gender equality prevented American women from writing great classics.

And goes on to say:
... a writer's feeling of artistic power -- her authority -- has been there for the seizing, even if at times it's been almost impossible to lay hands on it, given the fog generated by our national myths, rigid ideas of the genders' innate capabilities and downright sexism. The difference between then and now lies just as much in the ability to get published and read, and in the economic factors, from book sales to teaching gigs to grants and fellowships, that permit a writer to support herself in her chosen vocation. Francine Prose, in that Harper's essay a decade ago, argued that the prestige awarded by critics and prize committees is crucial in securing these supports for literary writers (as opposed to commercial and genre writers), and they are still distributed unfairly.

Karen Miller often sends me cool stuff. Here was an article in Jezebel called Why Books by Women Aren't Serious and comes back to the discussion on how men's work is higher values:

What Weiner and Picoult are talking about is something any female writer or reader is probably familiar with: the When A Dude Writes It, It's Serious phenomenon. Explains Weiner,

I think it's a very old and deep-seated double standard that holds that when a man writes about family and feelings, it's literature with a capital L, but when a woman considers the same topics, it's romance, or a beach book - in short, it's something unworthy of a serious critic's attention.

There are really two problems at work here. One is the consistent devaluing of women's experiences (a woman's "domestic fiction" is a man's "sweeping family saga;" a woman's "self-absorption" is a man's "moving memoir"). The other, though, is the persistent and pernicious need to identify what is and isn't serious. The whole term "literary fiction" seeks to exclude science fiction, fantasy, mystery, romance, and yes, chick lit from the category of Things Smart People Should Read

And skirts around the question of why women are expected to relate to an engage with male protagonists but it's perfectly obvious that men can't relate to women and don't have to.

And a second article by way of Karen: On Invisibility, Gender and Publishing.

Perhaps, over the course of the next few years, decades, lifetimes, we, as women writers and readers (Fact: women readers outnumber men, the NEA report on reading from 2008, Reading on the Rise, notes that women readers account for 58 percent of adult literary readers) will decolonize ourselves, find a way to overthrow the literary patriarchy that overlooks, and at times outright smothers women's literary expression and cultural production, and celebrate that we create more than just the bodies that populate the planet.

...we'll argue that it shouldn't be chick lit v. literary lit. that there isn't a lack of female talent, or an overabundance of frivolity, but, rather, question why the spout is so narrow. Why are the stories we tell, from science fiction to kitchen table drama, not purchased, reviewed and promoted in the same ways that men's writing is?

This article is an interesting piece responding to that Publisher's Weekly Best Of that had no women in it and their response to the criticism of that.

On an optical level, invisibility works by bending the light pointed at an object. The object doesn't disappear, atoms dispersing and separating to let light pass through it, but, rather, deflects light to the objects behind it, allowing them to reflect back at the viewer.


Some reading - Part 2

A couple of tabs I've had open for a few days:

2011 Book Club at Dreams and Speculation: Women of Science Fiction

2011 Book Club: The Women of Fantasy

And a link from Todd: Female journalists and writers about music are not respected or considered "for real" like male ones

I've had male musicians quiz me... a well-known elder bebop saxophonist who sang riffs and asked me to identify them. He also changed them subtly so they weren't quite right, so I would be wrong no matter what.

Recommended to me by Jed Hartman ages ago when we were having a discussion of gender disparity:

I finally sat down and read this article (it's old) at Strange Horizons SF and Fantasy in the New Millennium: Women Publishing Short Fiction

Reading the discussion on statistics was very interesting. And something occurred to me about the gender breakdown in my own table of contents (I was discussing on the Coode St Podcast how someone had wondered if I blind slushed how my table of contents might be different. FYI I was very offended by the suggestion that if I blind read, I would default to white male reader). There is a discussion in the article here that women are less competitive and so submit less - a bunch of editors talk about how they get less stories written by women submitted to them. And I realised that I do a call for submissions differently to the standard. I announce my guidelines and open my reading periods - here and on the Twelfth Planet Press blog. And I submit these to Duotrope, the SF Bullsheet and Ralan. But I also send personal invites to many writers. Which is a less competitive and confronting process. I let people know that I would love to see work submitted from them - I do this because many people are busy and don't always see submission guidelines. But I also do it because I want to encourage writers who may have stopped submitting to Australian markets for a number of reasons to submit to my markets. And so I suspect that I actually have a higher female submission rate that the numbers stated in that article. And I also think I get submitted subject matter that is often seen as less appealling to many markets.

And a very old article but I only just got round to reading by Jed on approaches to shifting gender disparity in publishing.


How did I go?

I came home earlyish this afternoon in the hopes of finishing off the remainder of my list. I was feeling pretty energised but by the time I got home, shopped for doggy food and made dinner, I was pretty beat. I still got a few more things done, and packed up, and a few emails responded to but nowhere near what I had hoped to finish off before this report.

Ah well.

I'm really happy that I was able to take this weekend off. Yes, my definition of "take off" is different from the standard. I pretty much needed a weekend in which I did not have commitments to fulfill or in which I was prioritising other people over my own things. It's been a really long time since I had a weekend that was mine. All mine to do what I wanted with it when I wanted to and could change my mind on the fly about what I was doing ... or do nothing ... or sleep the whole time. Or whatever. I was starting to feel anxious and resentful. So a big thanks to Amanda who represented 2011 at WASFF this weekend so that I didn't need to drive up from Rockingham and them back down again.

Friday night we were up at my place and I pottered around which was nice and then got my hair done Saturday morning and some sewing planned before I drove down to maelkann's. (But first I discovered I had ripped a tyre. The RAC man came within 10 mins of calling and fixed it without breaking a sweat.) I must confess being at maelkann's place is a leeetle bit like being on holiday. C cooks! And I only have whatever I brought with me to do/read/sew/watch so that means I do those things without distraction and actually get things done. And his room has really good light. It means I don't sleep in too much but I also wake up fully awake without needing to do the hour or two wake up thing with coffee and soft noises and that means I get more done!

And I need to rave about the pasta sauce that C made on Saturday. Truly delicious and a keeper of a recipe - spicy, with sundried tomatoes and olives ... and yum!

Anyhoo. My weekend was filled with cups of coffee, cuddles, good food and just the comfiest of company. I feel relaxed and refreshed.

What did I get done listwise?
1. Read one AA book
2. Finished up all the ASif! admin backlog
3. Got my emails down to 29!
4. Read and responded to all but 6 novella submissions
5. Watched the end of S2, all of S3 and 4 of The Guild
6. Emailed out about that sekret project
7. Sorted out the cash discrepancies in the Worldcon Sales Tallies with Tehani
8. Packaged up as many AA judging copies as possible with what I had
9. Worked on borders for a couple of quilts I'm doing (a well known boring part of the process but excellent when slushing or answering emails).

It doesn't really feel like all that much looking at it now but I had been procrastinating for a long time, or just not getting to, a lot of what got done on the above. Some was urgent and required in order to do other things. Others were not urgent but very tardy and weighing down on me in the background. Now all the emails in my inbox are only from 2010. Weird!

I worked solidly when I wasn't socialising this weekend but I feel like I had a relax. I feel so good because I made myself stick with tasks I'd been avoiding and so all this weight is now lifted. And I finally had/made time to get these things done and to prioritise reducing some of my own background stress.

I also caught up with Terri at her place for dinner on Saturday night. And caught up with Tehani there and then today again for lunch. Terri cooked up an amazing vegetarian, gluten free storm. It was all deliciously good. And then there was fondue and coffee! Tehani brought me dessert today for lunch, which apparently I really needed (as per my pathetic tweets).

Much things achieved. Much stress reduced. Feeling loved and happy.

But back to work tomorrow :(