Friday, 26 July 2013

Anakana Schofield asks if there are too many writers and not enough readers?

Ankana Schofield, author of Malarky
Anakana Schofield has published an excellent article at The Guardian, that sparkles with wit and wisdom.
Her points show frustration, not bitterness.  Here are some of my favourite parts, which were borne from Ankana's hard-earned experience:

A debut author's publicist tells her, as every honest publicist should, the bald truth: that newspapers like personal stories. Ideally, confessional stories. Best of all: confessional stories that relate to the fiction she spent years making up. So she spends years using her imagination only to discover that she must dig about in her psychoanalytic compost heap, and retrieve something that reveals that, in fact, she has not made it up at all.

As Malarky is an exploration of grief and sexuality, such a confessional would require, say, the insertion of an anecdote about how I liked to spy on men having sex in bathhouses. This would tidily explain how (or why) I created a novel in which, among a myriad other things, an Irish mother re-enacts her gay son's love acts.

The truth is otherwise: sadly, no splashy bathhouse peeping. Instead, I sat in a library surrounded by medical students and made it up...

These days, an author, especially an unknown author, must – in order to entice any readers to her work who aren't blood relatives – write endless unpaid blogs, articles and responses for newspapers and magazines and random people creating things in basements...

 There is a general decline in the value placed on labour. The situation is comparable to other areas of the workforce, where several jobs are collapsed to one and the pay slashed. The reporter who must now shoot, edit video, audio-record and type all stories while tweeting. The security guard who is not allowed to tweet, but must also do the cleaning...

Why is there so much fuss in the media about how to write a novel – "everyone can become an author" – when the more important thing is how to read one?

 There are no adverts that instruct you to sit down, have a cup of tea and read. This, I suspect, is because there's no economic advertorial kickback from those acts...

 The author engaged in a bookshop reading event (usually unpaid) has been known to become a vessel through which other authorial fantasies can flow or ferment. Unless the moderator steers it otherwise, a Q&A can turn into a session on how that ubiquitous determined man at the back can be published. He has an email from an agent from years ago … I sympathise, but I also want to ask him: whom do you imagine will buy and read your work if you do not buy and read books?

 You can read the full article here.

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