August 14, 2007

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BLOGGING BY GENDER Posted by Sheila Connolly This past week Ellen Goodman wrote in her weekly column about the fact that men dominate the world of political blogs: the column was titled "E-Male". She made the point that while there are many blogs written by a women or women, in the political sphere it is the male bloggers who get heard and who set the agenda. This blog is not going to be about politics, even if there is a woman running for President (about time!). Goodman's comment made me take a look at my own small universe--writers--and the fact that it is dominated by women. Maybe I'm biased and choose to read only those blogs written by women, whether they are wannabe authors, new and struggling authors, well-established authors, agents, editors, or self-declared pundits. So is this a process of self-selection, or are there really more women writing, or at least talking about writing? When I first started writing a few years ago, I joined Romance Writers of America, because it was recommended by a friend who had published multiple books, and because it had a powerful organization. Not surprisingly, it is run by women. I don't have the statistics in front of me, but I think it's safe to say that well over 90% of its members are female. Some years ago there was a lot of fanfare when James Patterson joined RWA, but he was not followed by a herd of his male peers. Mystery Writers of America has both male and female members, although I think it has been pointed out in the past that men win more of their coveted Edgar awards. Then there is Sisters in Crime, which was founded twenty years ago to combat just this kind of inequity. SinC statistics show that the gender balance has improved, but we're still not quite equal. But working on it! I have a gut feeling that the numbers of male and female writers (or rather, people who write) are probably about equal. But I wonder if there are large numbers of women who snatch bits and pieces of time from job and family to keep working on the book of their heart–and who are not ready or willing to declare publicly that they are writers. They may never finish that book; if they do, they may never send it out to an agent or editor or contest, or even show it to their best friend. And until they have taken that validating step, they still feel they're just dabblers. And I think that's where the loops and blogs come in. They're a bridge between the silent scribblers and the world of the published. They are places where you can read about other people's journey and realize that you are not alone, and that with perseverance and luck, even you can make it. They are places where you can ask dumb questions and no one will laugh at you. In fact, you will get back lots of information, freely shared. You will get encouragement and support. And when you finally claw your way to a sale, you will get sincere cheers and cyber-cocktails and happy dances from many, many people whom you have never met. Writers are a solitary bunch in general. Yet at the same time, we are creating on-line families that span continents and age groups. And based on my unscientific survey, most of these groups are dominated by women. We support each other. And don't write off women in politics just yet. I hope we will soon see the day when women candidates for office will be judged based on their qualifications, not on their hairstyle or their wardrobe or their cookie recipes. Maybe Ellen Goodman has seen only the tip of the iceberg–the men who climb up on a cyber-soapbox and issue pronouncements, while the women behind the scenes are efficiently organizing the campaign, soliciting donors, keeping track of all those pesky details–and networking. It's a lot more quiet, but it's very effective.
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Emerging posted by Doranna Not so long ago, I was rejoicing in first draft. And whereas first draft generally runs at least two months (for something under 100K words--one of the categories, or a tie-in book, or the mysteries), this time around, the first fifth of the book was already written. And whereas I usually run a nice steady pace in first draft, this time, delays and various family emergencies tacked onto an accelerated deadline resulted in a what I can only call an uneven pace followed by...hmm, emergency measures. While I do love first draft, I'm not so sure those around me love it. More than one person in my life--having been peripherally in my life and then been given occasion to share a household with me for an extended time during a first draft siege--has expressed dismay in how thoroughly it engages me. All those folks waiting to hear from me in email can vouch for that. I just finished a whole series of replies that start off with apologies for the delay and the explanation that I've been in First Draft Land. So I guess...it comes with a price. The total, gleeful immersion in creation--other worlds, other people, other beings--it requires (for me, anyway) a certain disengagement with this world. It's a trade-off. It's not one I'd give up--ohh, I do love the rush of a good day of first draft!--but it might be one I sometimes regret--especially as I lose touch with important people, knowing it's my fault. Or as the world goes by without me, and I recognize that I really would like to have been part of it in some bigger way. Would like to have made some difference...had some effect. Oh, I have my touchstones. The animals, on a daily basis--their needs, and their training. And I do keep the crucial things going--the bills get paid, and of course my web work continues, filling its own creative niche. But other things...I don't always reach through to those. It's not just the amount of time spent writing in the day. It's the kind of focus and energy. When I'm not writing first draft--especially not excessive emergency measures of first draft!--I can multi-task up the wazoo. (Note to self: WordPerfect does not like the word "wazoo.") The little details of the day flood my mind; my mental list of "do this" is always shifting and accommodating the day. Doesn't matter that I'm working second draft or production or development or designing postcards or--whatever! I'm interruptible; I'm touchable. I might be way too busy to get it all done, but that's something else again! But during the writing, all those other things live in a different place...behind another door in my mind. Well, really it's behind a door, down the driveway, down the block, out to the highway, and across a state line somewhere. Definitely a different climate. I know it's all there...but it doesn't really quite touch me. At least, not until I finish first draft and open the door and it all comes whooshing back in! Hey, how'd that desk get piled so high with stuff? And the big challenge--that a certain amount of the clutter has become imprinted on my visual memory, so I don't really "see" it any longer. I have to pretend company is coming before I can-- Oh, wait. Company is coming. Wow. Have I got a lot to do! Anyway. First draft, for now, is over. Second draft is under way. And I'm back!

Lorraine Bartlett

Five women, five weekdays, many surprises.

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