Inspiration and a backlash against Realism

I read a great little article by Writers Edit on staying inspired as a writer. I agree with the author on many of her points. Though I am finding that reading ‘Art Objects’ by Jeanette Winterson is changing my perspective on books reflecting real life. I’m not as convinced by the argument that all writing (fiction) is based on life or should be. Jeanette makes the point that this kind of Realism come from the Victorian era and reflects a backlash against the Romantics who embraced innovation, imagination and art for arts sake. Realism was focused creating fiction that reflected “real life” and had a certain didactic quality that was very socially “responsible” in its message. Jeanette makes the argument that books do not have to be (and shouldn’t) just be a version of everyday life; that novels are in fact not a version of certain facts, but a whole new reality to be entered and understood. In a way she is concerned with what is at the heart of a novel, that it goes beyond just mimicry of life.

A great break down of her book can be found here.

“Myth #1: A good writer doesn’t need an editor.”

I’m experiencing a lush mania for researching the roles and types of editors out there. I found a warm, useful little article from Huffington Post regarding myths about editors.

“There’s a lot of misinformation and misunderstanding about editors and what they do. Here are seven of those myths that I’d like to clean up:

Myth #1: A good writer doesn’t need an editor.

In these days of self-publication and “service” publishers — who take a percentage of sales for letting the author do all of the work — you hear this a lot. “I’ve slaved over this manuscript for years. I checked it through a hundred times. Microsoft Word’s Spelling and Grammar comes up clean. It’s ready for publication.”

Want an example of a professional book from a world-class author who convinced her publishers to put out the book as-is, without a deep developmental edit (see #3 below)? Look at J. K. Rowling’s Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix. Pretty good book, and it’s sold millions of copies, absolutely — but it’s at least a hundred pages longer than it needs to be. There’s needless repetition, uneven pacing, and side-plots that go nowhere. You’ll notice that the previous and subsequent books in the bestselling series were much shorter and much tighter. Rowling worked more closely with her editors.”

The fall out of “Hard for Money”

I’ve been pretty down after I read an article on paying writers: hard for money, in the winter 2014 edition of Overland (here are two other articles on the topic as well). It was upsetting because I have lived a lot of the reality being written about and I have found it depressing to my core to have little to no money given in exchange for the hours, time, craft and skill I put into each article I write. But this was also the exact, hard hitting, TRUTHFUL information I have been looking for, for well over 6 months. So I’ve been in a slump, realising how fucked I am, (having felt that to be true and now having it confirmed). But this just means I have to get another job (in a creative area I enjoy) to be able to live. Which was what I was working towards anyway. Yet I deeply mourn writers lack of rights and proper payment for work.

A few nice things have occurred that have helped me feel less chronic despair though. My memoir piece, which is literally a ripped out, still bloody, piece of my past and soul, is being published on the Feminartsy website this Wednesday. My interview through The Writers Bloc is being finalised and I should be going on air soon. I also got up the courage to ask about internship opportunities at Editia publishing and I’ve got back some very promising correspondence.

The reality of ‘the writing life’ doesn’t go away because of the good moments that bring me a sense of value, nor does the good outweigh the profoundly difficult, but they do enable me to feel hope.