Wednesday, 30 March 2011

Publishing links

Things have been kinda up in the air around here lately. I'm busy jumping back and forth between various jobs and levels of sanity. If you're interested and have small feet (European size 37 or Australian 6B), here's a niche shoe website that I've been working on for the last few weeks. Ships worldwide...

However, to keep you up on your toes regarding the book world, here are a couple of interesting links.

The first is a blog
reviewing self-published books. You may not be interested in self-published books or the world of self-publishing but these are fascinating reviews full of very helpful information on what terrible mistakes to avoid in your writing. And they are often cringingly amusing (in that sort of "hope I've never done that, must pull out my writing and check" way).

The second link is a blog by the same person who writes the reviews above. This one is bluntly descriptive in its title,
How Publishing Really Works. Plenty of material for thought and agonising over.

Saturday, 26 March 2011

Monday, 21 March 2011

He wrote/she wrote

Take a look at this interesting site:

And read this article in the New York Times:

And the algorithm:

Then waste a significant amount of time testing this and tell me what you discover.

I discovered that all of my academic and professional writing in the last two years -- articles, reports, evaluations -- was judged to be written by a male. Even the more touchy-feely qualitative work was judged to be written by a male. Okay then. Perhaps academics are trained to write in a traditionally "male" way.

I then selected two blog entries. One was a more scholarly piece: Learning the Vernacular that given the above, I expected would be judged as "male". The other was my entry on the "episode of the snake in our ceiling" which is a more descriptive piece. Both pieces were assessed as having been written by a male.

When I entered a longish passage from my novel, the judgment was that it was written by a female.

I'm not quite sure what I can learn from this. Is my more successful, i.e., professionally validated writing, successful because it is written in a more "male" way? Is it a consequence of environmental factors that I write differently in different contexts? Is academia socialised to favour male behaviour? Where does my blogging fit into this? And how is it that I transition to a more "feminine" writing style in my novel? Would my writing efforts be more successful if I approached fiction in the same way as I approach report writing and blogging? Is there something in non-fiction that is more inherently male than in fiction?

Many more questions than I have answers for at this time and perhaps ever. But plenty of food for thought.

Sunday, 13 March 2011

A detour to Birdland

In the midst of what seems like the world falling apart -- earthquakes and armies and riots -- my children ran into the bedroom this morning to tell me there was a Tawny Frogmouth in the tree outside the kitchen window. Lying in bed trying to drag myself to the surface, I had heard the rapid patter of feet down the hall and sundry whisperings. They had fetched trusty Simpson and Day to identify our visitor before proudly announcing it.

Mr/Ms Frogmouth has been there all day, in spite of children playing, lawnmower buzzing, bins being opened and closed and camera shutter clicking. I think he might be waiting for the cool of evening. Or is he simply waiting for an unguarded guinea pig?

On the subject of birds, last weekend when we were walking along Enoggera Creek down near the Northey Street Farm in Brisbane, the umbrella trees were in full bloom. Each tree was covered by lorikeets that would take off in vast screeching clouds as you walked by, only to noisily return within seconds. I like lorikeets. They are a living illustration of the fact that beauty is not everything.

Thursday, 10 March 2011

Inbox of shame

Someone was telling me the other day about how difficult it is to raise children in the age of access to modern technology and media. It set me thinking about some of the things that are different for me today from when I was a child.

One of them is my Inbox of Shame.

I'm sure that other people's inboxes are full of vital and fascinating emails. Mine is full of emails to myself. I used to write notes to myself on paper, with a pen, sometimes even in a notebook. Now, many of the things I need to remember exist only electronically. I'm so often out and about and internet access is so prevalent in the places that I work, that I send myself emails all the time. I think I rank as my own most frequent emailer (which is sad in a way).

I'm not silly about it. I don't write letters to myself (well only occasionally) but the subject lines say it all:

"a link"

"another link"

"More links"

"Useful article on health journalism"

"For work tweeting"

"Do I need to go to this workshop?"

"For Mr Blithe"

"Possibly interesting blog"

"Have I read this yet?"

When more than say, ten emails in my inbox are from myself, I try to clear out the backlog and put everything where it belongs. A lot gets binned, but then I used to bin or recycle a lot of paper too. Perhaps I need to stop thinking of it as my Inbox of Shame and think of it as the inbox of a busy but environmentally virtuous person. Let's go with that.