Hi Sam, why does Nick Spencer still have a job? I may be naive, but I just don't get it...
Because most of the guys he works with are Just Like Him, I suspect. I mean, I don’t work at Marvel so I can’t say, but comics and especially the two big houses are very much an Old Boys Network.
Nick Spencer isn’t producing his reeking shit in a vacuum – he hands it to other people who approve it, package it, and come up with ways to market it to you as if it’s not a rancid pile of garbage. So while he’s the face of Comic Book Assholes right now, you have to remember that there are a bunch of guys standing behind him, telling each other they definitely aren’t white supremacists, that their entire readership is just super sensitive, and diversity is certainly what’s killing their sales, not the fact that they’re appalling sacks of shit masquerading as human beings.
I mean, TLDR institutionalized white supremacy, I’m afraid. :/
Christopher & Janet Chant, cricket dorks
I LOVE Christopher being a total dork about cricket when he’s a kid, and you will never convince me that he outgrew it. But Millie didn’t care and I’m sure Roger & Julia were like “daddy this is SO BORING” to his great disappointment, so he dragged Conrad (who also didn’t care but was a pushover) to matches and it just wasn’t the same as having a REAL fan along. (Mordecai was excellent company but he was busy with Gabriel half the time, and besides he and Rosalie usually went together because Rosalie was also a huge dork about cricket, and they’d dork out together and Christopher would always end up being the third wheel, not that he would ever admit that)
BUT THEN JANET COMES ALONG
And Janet mentions one day that back in her world her dad used to watch cricket on the telly, and Christopher is like WAIT. YOU KNOW CRICKET? (but obviously much more posh about it) And Janet starts talking about her favourite players and how she had a poster in her room but she never got the chance to play and now she’s in a world with no telly so there’s no cricket to watch anymore. And she gets kind of sad about it because she probably didn’t realize until she mentioned it, it snuck up on her like all those little things she misses from her world, that she doesn’t know she misses until they come up in day to day life and suddenly they’re just not there. Christopher will always feel guilty about taking her away from her world, and he sees her remember these things and it just makes him feel a thousand times guiltier.
BUT CRICKET. Cricket he can fix!! You never learned to play?? What a travesty! And thus starts Janet’s cricket lessons, and he takes her to the local pitch where the villages compete in a little tournament, and sometimes Mordecai and Rosalie come along and Rosalie points out all the mistakes these amateurs are making and Janet is delighted to learn that Miss Rosalie used to whoop every villager in the area when the castle team played. And Janet shows she’s a pretty darn fine bowler, and she starts playing in the local matches, and then Christopher gets to insist on the whole family going to matches because we have to support Janet, really, she’s awfully nice about all of your interests including your godawful charming horse Cat. And so Christopher finally gets his kids to cricket, even if only ¼ of them are interested, and sometimes even Millie comes, although she always brings a book because really Christopher cricket takes far too long.
And when Janet’s an adult and a doctor she has to fight her way on to the university cricket team because “girls can’t play” but oops she’s 10x better than any other bowler they have. Once she’s out of school she pulls together an all-ladies cricket team, made up of professional ladies who managed to become lawyers and politicians and professors despite the old boys’ network, and still like to crack a cricket ball on the weekend (it’s not easy and she has to force Julia to join because they can’t get quite enough people, and Julia sucks but she sticks it out because Janet). And they play in a local league and they lose a lot, but they win some and no one can say they’re terrible. And people laugh and jeer and some idiots even protest, but the jeering reporters change their tune when Chrestomanci himself shows up to as many matches as possible, and when he can’t make it Lady Chant is there because Millie doesn’t give a damn about cricket but no one is going to protest her Janet over some outdated ideals (the protesters always go quiet when Millie is there because she gives them a look that could melt glass).
When Janet visits the castle, Christopher argues strategy with her over dinner, and did you see the latest match, England was such a disgrace, and everyone else rolls their eyes but it doesn’t matter because Christopher finally has someone to dork out about cricket with. And Janet, who grew up without her mom and dad but with Millie keeping their library stocked and teaching her how to drive and Christopher congratulating her on making the rest of the villagers look totally incompetent with her bowling skills, has found her place in this world.
HOPE ON THE STREET SETTING ME ON FIRE! This was my favorite freaking part from the whole broadcast. I couldn’t stop smiling and screaming at my phone.
Honest to God, I just feel so in love when he posts HOTS. And not because he’s my bias- his dancing is really the reason why I became so attached in the first place. That morning when I woke up to watch Show Champion, and BTS was performing We Are Bulletproof Pt. 2.. I think if J-Hope didn’t have that small solo, I wouldn’t be where I am right now with support. I’m sure I would have liked Bangtan sooner or later, but early days? I don’t think so. It would just be a different love I think. Y'all, I’m so blessed he exist. I’m happy seeing him perform on stage and showing everyone what he can do. I’m so so happy that he’s receiving love from many people around he world. He’s always trying his best and I admire him for that. Street dancing isn’t all that popular anymore, but I love how he’ll never let it die. I love how he’s always wanting to share with his fans, his own members, the art and beauty of street dancing. You can clearly see his passion through his dancing and it makes my heart feel so warm. Please never stop what you’re doing, J-Hope, Jung Hoseok.
AN INCOMPLETE LOOK AT PARTICIPANTS
IN FEMINIST ONLINE ART MOVEMENT(S):
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Wikipedia Edit-A-Thon (2) ArtFem.TV Black Girls Code
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(GIM) Girls Only NYC Girls Who Code Hollaback! Institute for Women and
Art Learn to Search Mentoring Artists For Women’s Art Old Boys Network Panoply Performance Laboratory Peachy Keen Collective Queer Technologies
[secret girl group] Son of a Patriarch Stop Street Harassment StudioXX Tactical Technology Collective The Coven The Feminist Art
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Illuminati Girl Gang Lies Journal Offworld SALT. Shabby Doll House S S I S S T E R S S Tender Journal THE LE SIGH The
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SUPPORTING INSTITUTIONS: Arcadia
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des arts actuels Skol Centre Hubertine Auclaire Eastern Bloc Elizabeth A. Sackler
Center for Feminist Art (Brooklyn Museum) Eyebeam Art + Technology Center, NYC Franklin Furnace Performance Archive PARMER PWRPLNT Rhizome at the New Museum Transfer Gallery
ARTISTS/DESIGNERS/FACILITATORS/INDIE GAME MAKERS ETC: Annie
Abrahams Steph Alarcon
Morehshin Allahyari Alma Alloro
Kari Altmann Patricia Alvarado Kaja Cxzy Andersen Anna Anthropy Aevee Bee Genevieve Belleveau Hannah Black Mary Bond Cristine Brache Mattie Brice Arvida Byström Micha Cárdenas Jennifer Chan Naomi Clark Christen Clifford Andrea Coates Petra Collins Lauren Cook Samantha Conlon Andrea Crespo Anna Crews Jesse Darling Stephanie Davidson Ella Dawn Angelina Dreem Kate Durbin Hannah Epstein Suzon Fuks Nina Freeman Carla Gannis Erin Gee Emilie Gervais Gross Girl Problems Randi Lee Harper Claudia Hart Deanna Havas Hannah Heilmann Ann Hirsch Faith Holland Erica Lapadat Janzen E. Jane Natalie
Jeremijenko Miranda July Soha Kareem Zahira Kelly Rosemary Kirton merrit kopas Elisa Kreisinger Olia Lialina Life of a Craphead Anya Liftig Kristin Lucas Amber Lundy Divya Manian Amelia Marzec Cat Mazza Rea McNamara Jennifer Mehigan Grace Miceli A. Minolti Lorna
York Times Feminist Reading Group Not in the Kitchen Anymore
(Jenny Haniver) Lora Nouk Lena NW @ok_cucumber Marisa Olson Louise Orwin Party Time! Hexcellent!
(Rachel Simone Weil) Hannah Perry Rachel Perry Welty Sondra Perry Porpentine Sunita
Prasad Erin M. Riley Bunny Rogers Annina Ruest RAFiA Santana Anita Sarkeesian Martine Syms Caroline Sinders Brooke Singer Beth Siveyer Megan Snowe and Reija Meriläinen Molly Soda Krystal South Fannie Sosa Evelin Stermitz Hito Steyerl subRosa Amber Hawk Swanson Martine Syms Elizabeth Tolson Katie Torn Amalia Ulman Addie Wagenknecht Saoirse Wall Angela Washko Faith Wilding Caroline Woolard
Alexander Samantha Allen Ana Cecilia Alvarez Katie JM Baker Jayinee
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Archey Josephine Bosma Sarah Brin Lisa
Cartwright Gaby Cepeda Lauren Cornell Kimberly Drew Sian Evans Rozsa Zita Farkas Lauren Goshinski Beth Heinly Dorothy Howard Jamillah James Liz Losh Jacqueline Mabey Zoe
Marden Antonia Marsh Sally McKay Laurel Ptak Zoë Salditch Astria Suparak
[Coercion] - Dressing like a stereotypical lesbian from the offset, and her shameless flirting has never been gender specific. She was supposed to be called Frankie Renard..is there a more stereotypically gay name?
[A Woman’s Work] - Flirting with Jac Naylor and complimenting her cheekbones
[Long Way Down] - That smug look when she hears Dan telling his father that he’s gay.
[Only You] - Playing cupid with Simon and Dan.
[From Here To Maternity] - Acting maternally towards Chantelle and just being extra ‘women-raising-up-women’. Using her womanly wiles to get Eddi on side and flirting even without meaning to.
[You And Me] - The scenes with Chrissie where they were disagreeing were so tense, it was ridiculous.
[Taxi For Spence] - “Has your first choice arrived yet?…Is it a man or a woman?” & the hug with the liver recipient where she keeps her arm on her back even after the hug’s ended.
[I’m Sticking With You] - The Chrissie arm touch.
[Hold On Me] - Ric is saying he supports her and she’s like ‘Why are you being nice, wtf? We have a good little rivalry going on.’ then when Ric says they don’t have to be enemies, she’s like ‘only if I work on your terms though, and I’m an independent woman who isn’t interested in your allegiance, so..’
[The Third Way] - The way she looks Sinead Bainbridge up and down when she walks in. To Jac - ‘and batting for the other side’
[Follow My Leader] - The way she completely lathes herself in Lila’s hero worship. Also, hinting that Lila should be her mentee just to spite Michael because she’ll have all the attentions of the pretty new girl.
[If Not For You] - “She’s a lot of fun.”
[To Absent Friends] - Being a power hungry woman and fighting for the CEO position.
[How Lo Can You Go] - Rolling her eyes at Michael’s flirting with women. “Can’t resist a nice set of jugs.”
[And We Banish Shade] - Inviting Imelda for a drink. Winking at Jac Naylor.
[Unravelled] - Being genuinely upset that it was Chantelle at fault because she wanted it to be someone she didn’t like so that she could be angry with them.
[Not Aaron] - The way she looks at Jac and she can almost tell that it’s not a random patient.
[The End Of The Beginning] - The look in her eyes when Chantelle apologises and she realises how horrible she’s been.
[Great Expectations] - Making gay inferences about Malec. The way she says ’Since when have you been in the closet?’ makes it sound like she’s saying she is.
[The More Deceived] - When she makes a love bite joke to Gemma and then proceeds to tell her to ‘get it checked out, please, just for me?’
[Break] - She went out of her way to get Gemma a night shift just because she asked her for one.
[Mens Sana In Corpore Sano] - Made Gemma think she was going to fail F1 just to get her riled up so she could see her angry.
[Digby Dog] - Suggesting meetings in Pulses because meeting rooms are too formal. Harry literally thought she was a lesbian.
[Old Wounds] - Literally asks Ric to go to the dinner as a favour so she doesn’t have to go stag, it’s SO last resort and they specify that it’s not a date.
[All At Sea] - making sure Adrienne knew it was NOT a date between her and Ric.
[The Cost of Loving] - the look on her face when the patient says Chantelle is much classier than Serena.
[Last Dance] - Remaining completely uninterested in the hetero drama of Digby/Chantelle.
[Arthur’s Theme] - The way she’s looking over her wine glass in Albies when Mary Claire’s singing.
[Merry-Go-Round] - Giving Chrissie the old IDs rather than throwing them away because she knows it matters to her. Using flattery to persuade Chrissie to join the dream team.
[Sink Or Swim] - How pissed off she gets at Guy for trying to undermine her.
[Fait Accompli] - When she threatened to break Edward’s arm if he didn’t remove it from her shoulder. Eyes @ Colette. Getting defensive about the fact she’s a Ms not a Mrs.
[All I Want For Christmas Is You] - Not taking any of Edward’s bollocks. The look between her and Mary Claire at the end of the ep.
[Self Control] - No one has ever been less interested in a man’s advances than Serena through this episode. “touching’s extra” playing wingman for Ric. The way her and Kathy gang up against Ric. She’s more tactile with Kathy, who she’s just met, than she ever was with Edward.
[Eat Your Heart Out] - Getting defensive of Dom when a patient is homophobic. Winking at Zosia.
[Instinct] - The way she looks at Colette.
[Exit Strategy pt2] - The smug look on her face watching Zosia throw Guy under the bus. “Just because someone gropes me, doesn’t make them a psych case.” How smug she was about her painting in the chapel.
[The Cruellest Month] “Now that Connie Beauchamp’s swooped into the ED…” “Yes, I do know what action is.”
[My Name Is Joe] - Drinking Yellowtail with Dom in her office.
[Keeping Mum] - Her relationship with Colette through the episode, but especially in trusting only her with Adrienne.
[All Before Them] - ‘Women - stronger constitution!’
[The Spirit…] - Literally watching Colette walk away from her. “It’s Colette, it’s Serena’s friend” THIS WAS SO GAY
[Affair of the Mind] - That hair stroke.
[Going, Going…] - More Colette/Serena. At the Gala, never has anyone looked less interested in a man’s advances.
[Not Waving But Drowning] - “I love you Ms Campbell.”
[The Science Of Imaginary Solutions] - Colette arm touch.
[We Must Remember This] - Serena/Fleur**CANON LESBIAN** was insane - ‘Just the woman I’ve been looking for.’’I might have a proposition for you.’
[Flesh and Blood] - Criticising Mary-Claire’s flirting like ‘why you flirting with patients and not me?’ Mary-Claire shoulder touch. “Now that she’s dead, I feel like i can be myself” (**she didn’t mean her sexuality at the time, but i think a lot of the reason she didn’t have her sexual awakenings earlier stem from her desire to please Adrienne**)
[I Am What I Am Not] - She literally cannot stand Angus and everything he stands for, and people think who think she wasn’t playing him for the entire course of their relationship are kidding themselves.
[Brand New You] - Physically fleeing from the prospect of no booze.
[Blindside] - Mary-Claire arm touch.
[Go The Distance] - Two Mary-Claire hugs, and the shoulder touch and eye contact in Albies.
[Lifelines] - Literally only wanted Angus for sex.
[Tug of Love] - No one has ever looked less upset about being dumped.
[Children Of Lovers] - First conversation with Cara is literally about boobs.
[Losing Control of the Wheel] - Morven arm touch.
[U Turn] - Her conversation with Essie.
[Return to Innocence] - Her entire relationship with Sian is the most flirtatious thing in the world - especially when they’re holding hands on the bed.
[Speak True] - Her ‘women raising up women’ attitude and complaining about the Old Boys’ Network.
[An Eye For An Eye] - Swipes Robbie away when he tries to touch her.
[Bad Blood, Fake Snow] - Inviting the boys over for a family Christmas,, not even gay just pointing it out because it was beautiful.
[Beginnings] - Explicitly telling Raf she isn’t interested in Robbie. Yelling at Robbie and telling him to get out lmao. No one has ever looked more awkward than Serena when Robbie starts singing.
[The Hope That Kills] - When she’s going on about how office romances are the main cause of gossip to Arthur and in retrospect it’s just SO ironic.
[Kiss and Tell] - Her continued tactility with Cara.
From Serenity onwards, it’s just pure Berena so I’m not recording every single look between them because effort.
It’s the 1980’s, Lodon. Arthur is a lower middle class boy who listened to one pink floyd album to many during high school an is now living in a crummy appartment in a London suburb.
He was clever enough to go to college but not rich enough to become succesful afterwards the old boys network effectively being used against him. One thing he did gain in college was a critical mind and a lot of leftist literature.
He has a shitty job, a sharp but bored mind, and all this pent up anger. But he has punk music and big ideas. He pierces his ears and one eyebrow and decides to hell with the system. To hell with the world. It makes sense, the system screwed him over, the government is corrupt, he wants to fight all the big monsters with teeth and nail and fists.
One night a concert escalates into a protest into a riot. Police arrives and when Arthur finaly goes home punk has lost it’s glamour. He’s bruised, tired and numb. He worked so hard on everything, he kicked as hard as he could and the system doesn’t even have a dent. He is tired and no longer wants to fight anything. He wants to just give up.
He arrives in his washed out appartment with stains in the carpet and barebone furniture. And finds Francis already sleeping there, A strange dot of colour in the otherwise drab room in his sky blue shirt. In college, he hated Francis. A rich boy, designer clothes and very right wing. Things changed when Francis father kicked him out for being homosexual and Francis proved that when his family wasn’t controlling his thoughts that he had a thing for revolution. Critical thinking is damn sexy.
Francis had less affinity for the dark colours and destructive nature of punk and while he didn’t mind it on Arthur he himself never stopped dressing well money or no.
He crawls into bed with Francis and admits he’s defeated, tired and hurt. Francis holds him and comforts him. “You should take of your clothes~” “Francis I’m clearly not in the mood.” “No, but they smell like beer and if you sleep in jeans that tight your balls will drop off I’m sure!” Arthur pulls his underwear along by accident because his jeans are so tight but this happens everytime. “God! I always pull down my knickers. Can’t believe it.” Francis says something along the lines of “Hello boys~ Finally you can breathe!” To Arthurs genitals and they both laugh and Arthur just feels lighter by just being with Francis and stronger. They don’t do anything but just hold each other and kiss and crack jokes until they fall asleep.
and then the world doesn’t need to be fought against.
Why I’m not Cinderella, and why I hate the word “posh.”
the first opinion piece I read when Chocolat
came out. The journalist, a Londoner, rather condescendingly described me as a
“brisk Yorkshire schoolteacher”, which was quite amusing, because in Yorkshire
I’ve always been viewed as a bit of a Southern pansy. Much was made then of my
humble background; the fact that my immigrant mother and I first lived in my
grandparents’ shop in Barnsley, with no central heating and an outside loo. Later,
as I got used to being the subject of articles describing me as “an ordinary
Yorkshire lass” and even once as “the Barnsley housewife who got lucky” I
realized that Cinderella stories - stories of rags to riches – regardless of their
accuracy - just make for better copy, or at least they do until the author’s
success is assured, after which they tend to be replaced by sneering comments
on how impossible it is for someone so elevated to understand the problems of
ordinary working folk.
On Twitter the
other day, someone accused me of having achieved my writing success through
contacts made at Cambridge (where, incidentally, I studied French and German). It
isn’t the first time someone has implied this. Forget talent, or hard work, or
ability; it’s a commonly-held belief that the Old Boys’ Network is behind almost
every success in the arts. In fact, it’s the equivalent of Cinderella’s fairy
godmother – a kind of get-out-of-jail-free card for losers and loafers
fairy godmothers only exist in fairy tales. In the real world of publishing, it
doesn’t matter what degree you got, or whether you got a degree at all. All
that matters is whether or not the publisher thinks they can sell your book to
the general public. And yet, many writers still believe in the magical shortcut
that will solve every one of their problems, and when they fail, they blame –
not bad luck, or their lack of commercial appeal – but their lack of a fairy
A few years ago, I resigned as patron of my
local literary festival because one of the organizers –a self-published author
- publicly insulted a guest author for being an Oxbridge graduate. Never mind
the fact that this author had had a fairly ordinary background, worked hard,
been talented and finally had achieved success: just the fact that he had once
gone to a top university automatically made him a posh Southern bastard. Comments
like that piss me off. There’s a lot more to Oxbridge than the Bullingdon Club,
and that kind of silly prejudice simply makes it harder for working-class
students to gain the confidence and support to apply.
However, it seems
to have become increasingly acceptable for people to sneer at Oxbridge
graduates, regardless of social background, implying that they got their
degrees, not through merit, but through aristocratic Old Boy channels. An an
ex-teacher, I got my fair share of pupils into Oxbridge, and I can say right
here that every one of them got there
by dint of hard work and ability. Which is not to say that there isn’t a network, but most Oxbridge
students don’t get to join. There’s a world of social difference between the
last in a long line of old Etonians who goes to the Oxford college of which his
grandfather was the Dean, and the child of an immigrant, born in a terraced house
in Barnsley, who happened to get into Cambridge because she worked hard and was
bullied throughout my childhood. Bullied for being fat; for being odd; for
being French - but most of all, for being clever. In Barnsley in the Sixties
and Seventies, being clever was roughly equated with being “posh”, and to be
posh was the worst thing you could possibly be, except perhaps for being foreign
– of which I was also guilty. There weren’t as many foreigners in that part of
Yorkshire in those days, and with my black hair and olive skin, many of the
other kids assumed that I was Indian – and therefore the child of a doctor, or
somebody equally well-off. It didn’t help that I spoke without a regional
accent (I’d learnt English as a second language), which made me doubly posh in
their eyes; that I generally did well at school, and that my family didn’t eat
the kind of food that they did (I’ve still never had Yorkshire Pudding).
It took me
some time to understand that, for many of my peers, liking books better than
sports was “posh” - with all the accompanying implications of wealth, privilege
and snobbery - in spite of the fact that my parents had rather less money than
the average family on our street, and that my clothes were nearly all second-hand.
Those things didn’t matter; at the time, the concept of poshness was inextricably linked with the idea of difference, nonconformity
and most of all, intellectualism, something
which we, with our houseful of books, represented in spades.
What was it
about reading books that filled people with such suspicion? I never understood,
although fifty years later, pupils in state schools are still often bullied by
their peers – as I was – for working hard and being clever.
word “clever” is still commonly used as a pejorative. It implies a sense of
personal superiority, a smart-aleck, scornful attitude, a lack of respect for
authority. To be clever is, implicitly, to reject one’s peer group – although
in my experience, it’s more often the other way around.
My grandfather was a coal miner. He
left school at thirteen with a lifelong fear of being ridiculed for his interest
in books. My father, the first in his family ever to go to grammar school,
still feels the need to justify reading for pleasure as “work” by only choosing
novels in German, French or Japanese. The last time I went into our local
children’s bookshop, I overheard a man outside telling his young son, who was
looking at the books, that reading would “turn him into a girl.” It seems that –
in some places, at least - being an intellectual is as much of a stigma as
some thirty years after leaving Cambridge, I continue to encounter the same
kind of prejudice. The university lecturer who assumed that I must have used my
“media contacts” to get published – in spite of the fact that, as an ex-pupil
of Barnsley Sixth-form college, I didn’t have
any media contacts - or in fact, contacts of any kind. I just got a job in
teaching (my first post was in the same school that was later used in the TV
documentary Educating Yorkshire, so
no visible privilege there) and spent the next eighteen years writing books in
my free time before getting lucky with my third.
say, I’ve never had any encouragement from the Yorkshire literary world,
either. After the success of CHOCOLAT, in spite of many events in schools, and
support of local charities, I’m still that “posh” outsider, who chose to write
a best-selling novel about France, rather than my hometown. When Yorkshire Life misrepresented me as
having “snubbed” my hometown of Barnsley (I’d been speaking of racial prejudice
in the Sixties), the local papers gleefully reprinted the story. No-one who
knew me came out in support. An ex-neighbour even sent in a wholly fabricated account
of how “snooty” I’d been to them. In fact, our families had always been
friendly, our daughter had played with their granddaughter many times, and we’d
helped them out one winter, bringing them hot food and candles when their electricity
had been cut off. None of that seemed to matter, though. Once a posh outsider,
always a posh outsider.
Now I’m not
suggesting Yorkshire is any more prejudiced than anywhere else. There are many,
good, welcoming people here. But this is why I bite back at accusations of
poshness, or suggestions that the Old Boys’ Club (last time I checked, I wasn’t
a boy) played a part in my career.
There was no fairy godmother. That’s because
I’m not Cinderella. I didn’t sit around waiting for magic to happen. I made my
own. I’ve achieved commercial success in
spite of being an academic. I’ve achieved a grudging acceptance from the
literary world in spite of being from the (unfashionable, “unliterary”) North. Yes, I have
been lucky, but most of all I worked bloody hard, both to achieve my objectives
and to combat the many prejudices that seem to come with the territory.
love Cinderella, as long as she is dressed in rags. But give her a happy
ending, and sooner or later the knives will come out, and people will eventually start
asking after that bloody fairy godmother.
Ever wanted to be an author? Don’t worry: you’re not alone. With the
ranks of “aspiring authors” growing by the minute, with creative writing
courses booming, and with “author” at the top of the list of the nation’s “ideal
jobs”, it seems as if most of the population is desperate to join the ranks.
Why? It can’t
be money. According to figures recently released by the Society of Authors, the
average income for a professional author is about £11,000 a year, and dropping
all the time. That’s well below the minimum wage, and frankly, there are easier
ways of staying poor and frustrated.
Nor can it
be about respect, given that authors are widely undervalued, taken for granted
and misunderstood – that is, if they’re not being plagiarized, pirated,
exploited or otherwise ripped off by people who don’t quite believe that what
they do counts as work.
So what is
it about writing for a living that makes people go all starry-eyed? It’s very simple,
really. Some people write because they
love writing. These people would probably keep on writing whether or not
they were published. If you are one of these people, then there is nothing I
can say to put you off, or to make you see sense. Join the club. Pull up a
chair. Maybe have a cup of tea.
are the people who write because they want
to be writers. These people have a particular idea about what being a
writer entails. It’s a highly romanticized idea, filled with dangerous
nonsense. My advice to these people is: if the idea of being a writer is more important and attractive to you than
actually writing, then run. Run like
the wind. Maybe take up a hobby.
See, here’s the
thing. Being an author is a bit like being a ninja. You don’t get to be a successful
ninja if all you really want is to be seen
to be a ninja. Being a ninja is a covert activity. Ninjas don’t go around going:
“LOOK AT ME, DUDE, I’M A NINJA!” They just get on with being ninjas, and no-one
is any the wiser.
Now you’re probably
thinking that my analogy is pretty tenuous. But authors and ninjas have something
else in common. Both have become creatures of legend. Both have been exoticized
beyond reason or possibility. Ask a kid what a ninja does and they’ll probably say
something about throwing stars, powers of invisibility or hanging out with
turtles. Ask an adult what an author does, and unless they’re in the book trade,
they will probably trot out something equally far from the truth – except that
instead of ninja throwing stars, they’ll be talking about movie options, launches,
festivals and book prizes. Because that’s what we tend to do with things we don’t
have direct experience of: we take the things we like the sound of and build
them into fantasies. And although there’s nothing remotely wrong with people having
fantasies, if those fantasies turn into stereotypes that harm or diminish others,
or cause us to have false expectations that will lead to disillusionment, then
we have a problem.
So, here are
some myths about authors, stripped of all their silly romance. Besides, I
personally like to believe that the real thing is better anyway…
1. Authors are Different to Normal People. Wrong. There is no “author
type.” Authors come in pretty much all the same types that any other people do –
except that they write books. And yes, they’re just as weird, normal, honest,
lazy, strong, clever, brave, foolish, weak, obsessive, boring (insert any
adjective here) as the rest of humankind. Othering isn’t cool. Don’t do it with
2. Real Authors Create Art – it Isn’t
Really a Job to Them. Er… yeah. Yes it is. That’s just a myth invented by
cheapskates who don’t want to pay authors for the work they do.
3. Anyone Can Be An Author. No they can’t:
just as not everyone can be a doctor, or a marathon runner, or a ballerina, or a
politician, or a monk, or a footballer, or an undertaker, or a taxidermist, or that
guy who taste-tests Haribo. (also see: Everyone
Should Write a Book. Why on earth should they want to?)
4. Authors Should Suffer For Their Art.
Nope. Try breaking your ankle; see if it makes you better at your job.
5. Authors Are Somehow Better, Finer, Nobler
Individuals Through Their Art. Wrong. All of them still fart in bed; have
bad days; screw up. You’re doing them no favours by assuming they’re
6. Authors Enjoy Their Job All The
Time. Wrong. No job is all roses. Sometimes being a writer can be frustrating,
dull, or depressing. We mostly keep on going in spite of those things, not
because of them.
7. Authors Are Intellectuals. Wrong.
Some are; some not. But an academic background is by no means a guarantee of
success as an author.
8. Authors are Part of a Special Author Club,
a Bit Like The Freemasons, But More Literary. A persistent myth among unpublished writers,
this one presupposes that authors get published via a secret handshake, or sinister
Old Boy network, rather than a publisher’s hope that they’ll make money for them.
Needless to say, it isn’t true.
9. You Get to Be an Author By Believing In
Yourself. Sadly, not. It sometimes helps, but persistence and self-belief alone are no
guarantee of success. Sometimes, and for a variety of possible reasons, you
never get where you want to be. This is no reason not to try, however.
10. Being an Author Makes You Somehow Better
Than Other People. Wrong. And if you think it does, you’re probably a bit
of a dick.