Saturday, September 15, 2012

What's Important for a Writer, and What's Important for a Man: Saturday Links

This week I read an inspiring guest post by Elizabeth Chadwick talking about how she came to be a published writer. It was especially interesting to me how she didn't care what job she had to work, because she knew that job wasn't her real vocation. It was just something to pay the bills so that she could write.
I left school at eighteen. I had thought about doing a degree in medieval history, but I needed Latin and I didn’t have it. I thought about doing English literature at university, or journalism, but I was put off by the teacher responsible for career advice. She told me there was no point in me applying to university in those subjects because I would need high grades, and I wasn’t good enough to get them. She said there was no point in me applying to do journalism because there was too much competition. So I took her word for it and didn’t apply. Instead I went to work in a department store as a management trainee. In the meantime, my exam results came through and my scores were of the right grades to have won me a university place. But like a train, my life had changed tracks. I had met my husband and I was working as a shop assistant. And really I didn’t care what I did, because I knew I was meant to be a writer. The job was just to earn a wage while I got on with the real business of working on my novel. In quite moments in the shop, I would write down ideas and stories on pieces of scrap paper and card. My heart wasn’t in the job because what I wanted to do was write.... (read more)
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Another guest post that caught my eye this week was by Sophie Perinot over at What Women Write. She starts with a question: "Military victories and territorial holdings remain history’s measure of male success. Should they be the only ones?" She then goes on to talk about how while women are often judged by their looks, men are judged by the size of their paycheck.
Traditional political and military history celebrates men who are effective rulers. The personal aspects of those men’s lives are either ignored or attached little value. I, however, came to writing with a background in women’s and social history. Those fields have a different view of what is important. I also came to my story as a woman or rather—since I was writing alternate first person present tense viewpoints—two women. The opportunity to look at each king through his wife’s eyes raised a pair of questions that (given that, generally, women now choose their own husbands) are even more relevant today than they were 700 years ago:
  • Should the definition of “successful man” include competence as a husband, father and friend?
  • Is it better to be married to a traditionally “successful man” who has little time for his family or to a good and loving man who is an epic failure?
As I got to know Louis of France and Henry of England intimately, my personal answer to the “Louis or Henry, who would I marry” question became clear.... (read more)

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