There’s nothing like it

That feeling you get when you open a mysterious cardboard box, unexpectedly delivered by the postman in the morning, and lift out the glossy-backed print copy of a book you wrote yourself.

SAMSUNG DIGIMAX A503

Actually, there is something like it, and it’s the feeling you get when you hold your new child. Admittedly, the second thing is bigger and scarier and more life changing, but there’s something of the same disbelieving joy about both things. I did that! And behold, it was good.

I think the similarity between books and children is behind a lot of the antics of authors behaving badly on the internet. No parent is going to stand for it if some stranger insults their child. Most authors feel a similar surge of protective outrage on behalf of their books. Both sets of people eventually have to get out of it by accepting that a grown up child/story ought to be capable of defending itself… but now my metaphor is wandering off somewhere without leaving a forwarding address, so I will leave it there.

On a different note, I finally got a good photo of the new lighting effect. It’s not quite as 70s looking as this makes it seem, mind you!

glowonwall

And on a third note, I’ve been having an interesting conversation about Mary Renault’s The Charioteer and other books over on Goodreads. I had said I picked up a misogynistic vibe from The Charioteer which made me reluctant to revisit her other books, even though the historicals had been favourites. I didn’t want to risk finding out that they gave me the same feeling.

One of the comments I got in return said that Renault was just reflecting the authentic misogyny of ancient Greece, and I replied that, since an author could choose whatever they wanted to put in their own book, just because ancient Greece was misogynistic didn’t mean that she had to be. She could write against that grain. Coincidentally, but fortuitously, I came across a post on my friends list which said much the same thing, only better:

http://tansyrr.com/tansywp/historically-authentic-sexism-in-fantasy-lets-unpack-that/

I’m sure it holds equally true for historically authentic sexism in historicals too. I know I’m constantly running into new research that undermined all I was taught about women’s roles in the past. Pilots, hermits, warriors, merchants, scientists, philosophers, poets, craftspeople, midwives, doctors, witches, pirates, queens… all of it rubbed out or defaced by history, where ‘history’ means ‘the stories we tell ourselves about the past.’ And you know what, wives are not bad things to be either. Mothers, sisters, aunts (maiden and otherwise), daughters and wives don’t have to be written as the stultifying forces of emasculating convention either. Lady Mary Wortley-Montague would have something very cutting to say about that, if she could leave off spinning in her grave long enough.

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2 Comments on "There’s nothing like it"

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Jennifer Thorne
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3 years 8 months ago

There certainly is a lot of bias in the written histories. I agree completely. And grats on the new paper-kid! I’m still waiting on the day that I put enough words down in a story to achieve that… ;p

Alex Beecroft
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3 years 8 months ago

I do wish that someone had told me about things like the women of the Air Transport Auxiliary, and female pirates, and women who commanded armies, or fought in them, when I was a child. Then I might not have grown up wishing I was a boy. It’s shameful to think that we know all this stuff and nobody is teaching it to our girls.

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