Wednesday, August 14, 2019


The following came in as a comment on my blog,  I don't know which Nancy sent it, but it must have been someone without my email address, so they took this route.

"I wonder if you have seen this extensive compilation of comments by women writers about the experience of publishing their first book. They are deeply embedded in the process and believe it has made them better writers, but, from reading your posts, I recognize that it made their books more saleable, which is not the same thing. I'm sending you the URL just in case you want to take a look. Will read with great attention if you decide to comment on it."

So now I've read the linked article about the first book and can comment.

1.  This is not about "women" writers.  It is about educated, connected, often free-lance or academic writers who have believed that publishing a book is something like a marriage:  a ceremonial marker of achievement that might turn out good or bad, but usually challenging.  Except that you need an agent, who functions like a doctor.

2.  The emphasis is on how surprising and difficult the book process turned out to be -- not the writing but the publishing.  Writing is difficult enough, but once the object is created, the rest is marketing and will take the writing out of the hands of the author.  Perhaps marketing will dictate what is written in the first place.  I've watched this closely twice, once in the life of Bob Scriver whose product was bronze sculpture rather than a book, and again in the life of a male writer who shall remain nameless.  In both cases, the factors described by these women were just the same.  

3.  Erica Jong's timeless phrase, "the zipless fuck" has now become sayable again the way it was in Chaucer's day.  That's the way many people think it is to write/publish a book.  The same dilemma of something that takes a lot of effort, attention, and compromise is in both sex and authoring.  And wickedness sells just a well as virtue.

4.  The internet has smashed open the system that developed after the invention of the printing press which produced these objects for sale, objects that had previously been unmarketable to many people.  Long blogging is a new medium that can be easily translated into print, varied to suit, bound if that's desired, passed on with minimal cost, but potentially unnoticed and ephemeral, just like books.

5.  None of this has anything particular to do with female writers, which is just a selling gizmo anyway, using a category to create a genre.

I think Nancy was already onto this.

I'm thinking about a category that really IS usually female: that of the muse.  What do you suppose Ghislaine Maxwell's book would be like -- but you'll never know because she was music played only through the medium of Epstein, whose commodities were money and little blonde girls.

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