I saw a post on twitter this week which was publishing a BBC Radio 4 blog
This podcast (for want of a better word) ran with the title:
“Where are all the working class writers?”
Being a proud working class writer I was intrigued to listen to what the author Kit De Waal ( https://twitter.com/KitdeWaal ) had to say on this subject. As it is currently still up on the BBC’s website I wont go into what she so eloquently talks about but leave you to take a wander over and have a listen. Its 30 minutes long give or take and I think it illuminates a subject that I have been thinking on for a long time.
On similar lines but not exactly the same it got me thinking….
Do we as writers expect the same treatment? I would like to think that it is a yes, however I do often feel (and this is of course my own opinion) that money talks. Always has and always will. Take my own circumstances. For many years I was a single parent bringing up my wonderful son. Money was tight and so I wrote, and wrote and most of my words stayed with me because spare money was hard to come by. Married now for nearly ten years and working full time I have found that the spare money I thought would be available still isn’t.
When my family needs clothes or I have a big bill to pay how can I warrant paying £300 plus for an editor for a book? Of course there will be those who say you have to speculate to accumulate but where does true talent get recognized over the buisness of writing. And by that I mean those who all want to take their slice out of my pie? At this present time I have 13 books ready for editing, but first these need revising, they need checking first to see if they are even worth editing before I can even get to the editing phase and each one of those processes take money.
Moving aside from the money I often hear or read on the internet about voice.. voice is important.. voice will always shine through. And yet I am constantly told there are a set of rules that all writers must follow. In my mind making each of our voices the same. If I want to use very in my book.. why does that make me a bad writer, it doesnt.. it makes me write how I write. My voice. (Not that I ever do use very but you get the point) On the subject of very I am currently reading a book by a published author and have read a smattering of the V word.. so it shows once you are published and recognised and getting the money rolling in you can pretty much write as you wish.. as long as the pie keeps paying money to all those who have a slice I guess.
One of the first book I wrote was a children’s book, it was a real labour of love and up to yet has probably recieved the most rejections of them all. And I have revised and I have revised with advice from fellow writers (not any of the editors/agents as they rarely give any critical advice) and now I hate what the book has become. It is not the whimsical book that reminded me of Enid Blyton, or the magic faraway tree.. it is a book that has been shaped by what other people want it to be. So much so that I cant even read this new book, this book that has been written by me but is as alien to me as mars. It makes me sad that that story will probably never see the light of day. It saddens me that my voice has been lost because I listened to what others wanted and didn’t just trust me.
Where do we as writers draw the line? Is being famous (not necessarily rich) more important than our own integrity. It made me think of this when I was listening to that article, bundled up in my winter coat and travelling to work a minimum wage job (that I incidentally love) I wondered before how many people from working class get noticed, or have the money or their fingers in the pies that will get them noticed. I often think if you are a celebrity of famous you can get a book published with not much talent, just your name driving along the sales.
I worry that all the writers who are out there who cant get that first step up with always be lost somewhere waving frantically as they sit in their buses trundling off to work and silently screaming ‘notice me too’
Let me know in the comments your thoughts. Both on this post and the Kit De Waal recording.