“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.”

Progress of a kind

In my pursuit of finding the place where I fit I have applied for a few internships. The first was the commutations and research internship with UN Women. Unfortunately, having spent hours writing a cover letter and laboriously covering all the selection criteria did not equal being accepted into the program. But we have to try. Perhaps the next opening I will be more qualified for, or I will have had more experience. I was disappointed yet I still believe that a break will come eventually.

The second internship/volunteer position I have gone for is at CCAS (Canberra Contemporary Art Space). I’m fascinated by curatorship, so I’m hoping I can gain some experience in that area. I figure that if I have any hope of finding my place in the creative world I have to try things. I will know if and what I will need to study next depending on the experiences I have. That’s why its vital I try things and volunteer.

I am also hoping that the Belconnen Arts Centre will get back to me soon after having spoken to my referees. By volunteering there I could also get a taste of curating and working in a gallery.

Editia Publishing may be a place that I can intern with in the future. I looked into working with them but there wasn’t any help needed at the time. But I’ve made the connections so hopefully I will be thought of in the future. And if none of those work out I will surely find other programs.

Image from: http://www.artgallery.sa.gov.au/agsa/home/Visit/

I forgot I could do anything

“You can do anything you want sweetie.” most of us were told that by our parents. If we were fortunate we were told that. They leave out the bits about classism, racism, sexism and the glass ceiling, but it’s an inspiring sentiment regardless. And it’s more than sentiment, however naive it may feel, surely it is better to live with a feeling of possibility than assuming few opportunities can be had?

At some point I forgot that I could shape my life to the direction I wanted it to be. School and parents guide us and sometimes cripple our abilities to think for ourselves. But again, I forgot it was up to me how I wanted to live. The prescriptive narrative is both temping and depressing. I don’t think I’ll be escaping the rat race entirely and living in Barbados with my sudden millions, but I could live in a commune under a dormant volcano near the border of Queensland. And why don’t I?

I was reminded that I had more control over the shape of things by something that is intangible to me now. But the idea has been emboldened by a recent encounter with a brilliantly strange woman. As she says, she may have paranoid schizophrenia, but this doesn’t cancel out that she’s living an authentic life; living off her art and wits. She is doing what I feel the Romantics and old bohemians did with cunning and some approximation to nobility; living off their art and accepting lack of toothpaste and expensive lingerie when it arrives in tumultuous spurts.

I have also recently met a new person, who’s exuberant past shows a courage to take risks for relationships and a colourful path to knowing his truest self. I do compare it to my own past, even though comparison is rarely useful. And I don’t come up badly, but I do see a fearful influence that might be called “stability” but may also be called “cowardice” and lack of imagination.

The point is not to bejewel oneself for the sole reason of a marvelous life tale or to impress on some level, but I do wish I went looking for a few more daring opportunities. The sort of daring that is daring to me; that challenges my fear and limitations I place on my spirit. My fears may not cause others discomfort, which brings me back to the idea that my life direction must be for myself and for the impressing of myself.

I don’t know what manifestation of action this concept will take me, but that shall be revealed in the future. For now I have the idea and I want to let it change me.

Blog Post Published

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On Anger and “Man Haters”

I don’t want to be as angry as you. Sometimes you come across like you hate men.”

This would have to be the most frequent and banal dig at an open feminist. This is what my mother said to me recently when I offered her some of my books. Raising my voice, I replied, “How unreasonable! How dare I be angry at guys who slut shame and think it’s ok to take drunken girls home?” After all, showing anger towards some people’s behaviour is not the same as misandry or generalised hatred for all men.

I had still not calmed down about her comments the next day. I knew my mother’s intentions were not to shame or slander me. She was simply conveying her own discomfort with expressing anger.

The question persisted though: “Maybe I am angry. Is anger a problem?” Surely it is reasonable to feel rage towards the men who call you a slut, who collaborate in a culture that insists you are inferior, who assault you, who make you feel unsafe, who yell at you from cars, who make sexist jokes, who undermine your economic independence, who beat you, who think they are better than you because they are a man, who subtly but insidiously encroach on your personal space, who feel entitled to tell you how you can and cannot use your body, who say “pussy” is gross and use “cunt” as the ultimate insult.

Nevertheless, it would be unbalanced to hate all guys. But to hate or feel anger towards those who perpetrate crimes against women is balanced. At some point most women are going to feel specific or generalised low regard towards men. This is not an attack on all men but a common symptom of those who have experienced sexism, trauma or violence. There are few women who have not experienced harassment or violence based on her gender.

I am convinced that it is ok and reasonable to feel negatively about these situations. Feeling outraged is good; we need to be aware of the issues that affect women. It is important, though, to keep a balance between rage and healing. Change is most likely to occur if we are determined to use our rage to bring about positive action.

Some guys may feel personally attacked by generalised comments about the bad behaviour of men. Statements such as “men are all” or “women are like” are broad-sweeping and tend to perpetuate sexist stereotypes. Anger is best spoken about in specifics.

If you are reading this as a white, Western woman then you are most likely better off than other women and minority groups. But “better off” or “better than the past” are not terms that mean we should “shut up and be grateful” or stop “complaining”. One Billion Rising, a global event dedicated to ending violence against women and girls, was held at the ANU on the 14th of February. The event revealed the terrible statistics of intimate partner abuse and violence against women both overseas and in Australia. I almost found it vindicating to listen to the disturbing plethora of facts about physical and sexual violence towards women. “I knew it was that bad!” I practically yelled to a friend who came with me to the event. These frightening statistics do exist and I felt I had the language and the facts to argue with anyone who says, “It’s not that bad; we’re not in India”.

We need to be angry; angry at a society that is complicit in the creation and protection of patriarchal structures and gender constructions that lead to these statistics. Our anger has the potential to generate change. I use the self-publishing forum ‘Zines’ to express my anger. I piece together images and statements to reduce the weight of powerlessness I feel as a woman living in a patriarchal society.

At some point we must move past the debilitating and festering resentment which only consumes and embitters us. Instead, it is better to focus on the discussions, groups and movements prepared for action.

There is going to be rage. We are going to be angry about what has happened to us, our friends, our mothers, to all women – both past and present.

Hatred can trap us – but anger can revolutionise.

(image by WishCandy) http://wishcandy.net/