Loch Awe in spring - Photo courtesy of Neil Donald Photography






Saturday, 4 May 2013

FOR WHOM DO YOU WRITE?

A few years ago now I joined a writers' circle - which shall remain nameless!At the first meeting I attended I was asked, 'For whom do you write?'. Well, I was in the honeymoon stage of writing, when each sale was a glorious thrill (and still is, I have to say) and I'd had about fifteen short stories published at that stage. So, I rattled off a list of the magazines my work had been published in - 'Woman's Weekly, My Weekly, Woman, Woman's Own, Bella, Best, and People's Friend.' I had a huge grin on my face at the thrill of being published but it soon slid away - they were all looking at me with horrified expressions on their faces. They hadn't meant that at all. The answer they wanted was: 'For me' This particular group had little interest in being published writers unless it was a win or a shortlisting in a 'literary' competition of some sort. They took - to a man and woman - a very dim view of womag fiction. Another question was fired at me: 'So, you write to see your name in print, rather than for the quality of your work?' Yikes!....I didn't last long in that group, I can tell you. How I lasted to the end of the meeting, I don't know, but I did. A couple of years later I was present at a library talk when a short story writer was taken to task for writing to suit a publication and a readership. This is the gist of her spirited, and considered, response. 'Some people lead horrible, and often very sad, lives. They have little time to read, and very litte money to buy things with. They might be ill and housebound, or they might be very badly-housed and, possibly, haven't had the benefit of the education you and I have had. Why shouldn't they spend 79p, or whatever, on a magazine and read a story that lifts them (in their minds) - for the time they are reading it - out of their sad place, to somewhere more exotic, safer, and romantic? On the other end of the scale I once received a 'fan' letter from a reader - a consultant renal surgeon - who told me she always loves to find one of my stories in a magazine because it helps her to relax from what is often a long, stressful, day and the huge responsibility of her job.' And isn't that what all of us want for, and from, our readers? That they lose themselves in the words we have strung together on the page for them to read? So, one's own name, or a pseudonym? Back in the day it wasn't the done thing for women to write - think George Eliot. But do times change? J. K. Rowling - so I've read - used her initials instead of Joanne because she wanted boys to read her Harry Potter series and not be put off that a woman had written it, which might have meant they'd have refused to pick up a single copy. After that early put-down in my writing career, I have to say I toyed with the idea of using a pseudonym if/when I made the leap from writing short stories to writing novels. In the end, when that happy day came, I chose not to be cowed by those barbed words. And so, I am proud - as Linda Mitchelmore - to announce the publication (by Choc Lit) of HOPE FOR HANNAH. It's a novella, an e.book at the moment. But there are plans for it to be issued in Large Print later in the year. It was written by me, for me, but very much with readers' enjoyment in mind. I do hope you'll like it.

18 comments:

  1. I really enjoyed reading your post, Linda, and I'm with you on the feelings of joy when something of mine is published - whether it's a poem, magazine article or story. It is such a special feeling and I am glad it doesn't wear off.
    I've often suspected the people who are so sneering about womag fiction are people who can't actually write it very well. They believed it would be very easy to rattle off a short story then, when it is rejected by the editor, they sneer at those who can do it!
    Congratulations on Hope for Hannah - it has a very intriguing cover.

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    1. Thank you, Mary.....HFH's cover is in the vanguard of Choc Lit Lite - instantly recognisable by its style. I'm glad you still get the thrill, Mary....I've always said when I lose that, it will be time to call it a day...:)

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  2. Atmospheric cover, Linda - a lovely one. An interesting post and one I can empathise with. Early in my writing career, I attended a Novel Weekend at a university and had a similar experience. One male writer took us all to task accusing us of 'betraying our art', by hoping to have our work published! Needless to say, he was the most unpopular member of the group. Why do I write? Simple - because I love it. But an even better thrill comes when I hold my hard-worked on book in my hand. And like you, I learned my craft writing short stories for women's magazines.

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    1. Thank you so much for passing by, Margaret. And while I'm sad you had this experience, too, it's good to know I'm not the only one. Maybe their negative attitudes did us some good in the end, made us soldier on...:)

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  3. There's a lot of literary snobbery around, Linda. Your short story publication achievement is fantastic (and enviable) and you should be very proud of it. Readers form - thankfully - a hugely diverse constituency and what's one's meat is another's poison, to use a well-worn cliché.

    I'm looking forward to Hope for Hannah already, by the way.

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    1. Thanks, Jenny, and you are right - there's room for all of us! I look at the bookshelves in the library or Waterstones or wherever and I think, 'Do we need more books? Is there room for one more?' Yes, and yes!

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  4. Excellent post, Linda - I love that spirited reply in defence of writing short stories. I once read a long defence of romance which was quite brilliant. Lovely cover!

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  5. Thanks, Rosemary, for passing by - glad you like the post....it is so hard, sometimes, to come up with something different to say that will ring a bell with other writers...:) Sadly, the slag-off has happened to most of us at times...sigh.

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  6. Lovely post Linda - and a lovely cover. I sooo agree with you about literary snobbishness (I wasn't allowed to register as a writer with Creative Scotland because I was 'only' published in books that were targetted at libraries...). I think most of us write because we enjoy writing, but the thought that what we write can a) earn some money and b) give others some pleasure is not to be sniffed at.

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    1. Well said....sometimes we have to think of our pockets....:)

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  7. I, too, have come across a little literary snobbery - only a little,though, as I'm not published enough for most people to notice. But it also strikes me that sometimes people think that because you've written 'for' one magazine or type of reader, you'll always be doing that.

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  8. A bit like actors getting type cast? Never thought of it like that but can see the thinking....:)

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  9. I'm looking forward to reading Hope for Hannah set on lovely Dartmoor!

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    1. Ooooh, lovely to see you here, Margaret James - thanks for popping by.

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  10. As a budding new writer just starting out, this is wise advice for me, thanks Linda. I have just bought the latest Woman's Weekly Fiction Special and I see there are several stories by you! I'm looking forward to reading them.

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    1. Hello, Lindsay.....thank you so much for popping in to say hello. I do hope you'll enjoy my WWFS stories...quite a surprise to find three in there, I can tell you - WW never tells me what they are putting where....it's like a lucky dip! Good luck with your writing....keep on keeping on is the best advice I can give you....:)

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  11. Special if belated congratulations on this, Linda - for some reason I didn't find this notification till now. Good luck with Hope for Hannah - you deserve it! :)

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    1. You're not late, Guernsey Girl, never fear....this post hasn't been up long and HFH out for only a couple of weeks or so....so many things coming out all the time, you have to shout loud to be noticed - I have a very LOUD voice....:)And lovely friends to support me...:)
      Thank you very much for popping by.

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