Tuesday, July 5, 2016

Celebrating Books and Women Writers

I arrived home from Rocky on Saturday and headlong into Maleny Celebration of Books events.

Before I go thundering down that slope, I was remiss in not including an image or two of the wee book-gift my class gave me in Rocky. I hadn't fully unpacked when I posted on Sunday but it emerged and settled into the house on Monday so here it is...a gorgeous reminder of a great week.

Can you imagine a gift that is more me?!?!

Back to Celebration of Books - I missed the Big Book Club discussion on the book The Natural Way of Things, but all reports are that it was brilliantly handled; lots of great discussions occurred and whilst many may not still have liked the book; they went away understanding it a lot better. What more can you ask for from a book discussion?

In fact here is what the author Charlotte Wood tweeted when she learned we'd been talking about it:

I was home for the Sunday morning Forum which was brilliant - three fabulous women writers, hosted by another remarkable women writer.  And we talked women and writing... working through the three topic headings: selfish; strident; and shameful.

I found the three headings intriguing enough and observed my own reaction to the choice of such strong words and topics.

This blog post is going to be a bunch of ideas and quotes from the session that resonated with me.

Krissy Kneen facilitated, and the panel included Jane Caro, Ellen van Neeven and Susan Johnson.

Selfish - the panellist discussed the selfishness of the act of writing and of withdrawing to focus on your own work and how hard that was for women to do, and the judgement that ensues when you do.

We covered how women often get judged for putting themselves and their interests/careers first, and how it is "harder for women to cleave to their creative work than it is for men" (Susan J).

We spent a lot of time in the world of feminism and discussing how women writers face different barriers to publication and promotion of their work.

Strident - Each author mentioned how if women choose to write about things other than the domestic and/or trivial - and make no apology for it - they may be considered strident.

Krissy introduced the notion that if women stick up for themselves and ask for a book jacket that doesn't shout "chick lit" by its colours (often times pink-red) or the inclusion of lips (I had never realised how many lips were on the jackets of books written by women) or  the use of a female form no matter what the theme or premise of the book may be...they are considered strident.

Shameful - this section focussed on how it is often assumed that women should only write about what they know - the lived life of a woman; or for Ellen - the lived life of an Indigenous woman. Rather than having the whole broad sweep of history, culture and community for us to play with; women are oftentimes constrained to write of the small life; the domestic; and by extrapolation - the boring, unimportant and shameful. Interesting.

A couple of my favourite quotes from Jane:

"Whatever I write or do or say, I want women to feel better about themselves"

"I'm getting allergic to being called a strong woman because it implies other women are weak. We don't say strong men unless we are talking about the circus."

"We will only have true equality when we have the same number of mediocre women in positions of power as we do mediocre men".

Anyhow, it was an interesting time!

The rest of the events went well and the feedback has been fabulous. I think we might just get ready to do it all again next year!


  1. What a lovely thank you card. They obviously enjoyed your workshop

    1. It's gorgeous isn't it Jac? So special and a great great reminder of a fine time. Go well.

  2. Gosh, how you fit it all in Fiona I do not know! From one amazing event straight into another. That gift is so precious and a sign that you must have delivered a very special workshop. How lovely to have that permanent reminder.

    1. It was a bit mad I must say Lesley and I felt like I hit a wall on Tuesday but all good again now! A precious gift indeed - I love it so; and it is sitting in one of our entrance alcoves now. Go well.

  3. you are such an inspiration Fiona, increasing awareness and love of the art of word making & books on so many levels

    1. Too kind Mo! It's always easy to share passion and a love I think - altho I must say it has been a rather hectic time...go well. Love of books and art and words - ahhh so good for the soul.

  4. I love the word strident xxx

  5. Replies
    1. Thanks so much - just visited your blog and it is gorgeous - I shall return!


I appreciate your thoughts and comments; thanks for taking the time.