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.