Monthly Archives: December 2012

Civil Rights

If you agree with current government initiatives to legislate for gay marriage then can I urge you to write to your MP to express your support? Opponents of the move have been vocal and mobilised; it’s all too easy to complain when something is against our beliefs, but to hang back when we think things are going our way.

You may like to mention if you happen to be a practising Christian and still believe in gay marriage. You may want to urge them to promote true equality by withdrawing civil partnership or making it open to heterosexual couples too. You may want to protest at the legal exclusion of CoE and CoW from the process. You may want, as I intend to, to tell your MP that they should feel under no compunction to write back to you (my experience of Tory MPs’ letters is that they are blood-boilingly patronising and ill-informed).

But can I ask you to write? We live in a world where there are still countries where being gay can get you killed. BY LAW. Perhaps we could make a declaration of support that all people are equal and capable of loving relationships which should be accepted and promoted by our society. You can find your MP at http://findyourmp.parliament.uk/. Write a letter, however brief. Then ask anyone else you know who supports gay marriage to do so. The argument being used by opponents is ‘no-one wants this, it’s a waste of time and we have no mandate.’ Let’s give them a mandate.

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Inherited creativity?

An interesting snippet from The Independent suggesting that creativity has some inherited element. The newspaper suggests a number of literary dynasties to support this, but the evidence actually comes from a study in which generations of families were asked to write stories which were then scored for originality and various other things. An interesting study, although I can tell you from my day job how difficult and controversial it is to judge creativity in writing,

It also rather worryingly brings to mind Francis Galton’s book Hereditary Genius, a book which used exam scores at Cambridge and the number of famous men with famous sons or nephews to assert that genius was hereditary, and that the meritocracy therefore worked…  Nepotism was not something he’d heard of, one assumes!

Cinderella stories

When I was in my teens I read quite a few Barbara Taylor Bradford and Louise Bagshawe novels (wouldn’t touch the latter with a bargepole now, I find her politics so repulsive). They had something in common: someone poor and/or ordinary discovers an amazing talent for hard work, and makes an huge success of themselves. Rags to Riches, Cinderella style.

 Reading this interview with E.L. James in the Observer this morning, and this amazing story of a first time novelist finding an agent on the Strictly Writing blog, it struck me that there aren’t so many of the BTB and LB books around in the 21st century. Instead, we get our fix from the real life stories. That’s the real interest of Fifty Shades of Grey for me (and I haven’t read the books) – the way that James wrote something which became a phenomenon, and remained so resolutely normal. Pretty much like what you hear of JK Rowling.

Writers (for me, an obvious set of people to identify with) getting a visit from the fairy godmother of sales, are clearly my fairy tale/ saga novel of choice these days. I wonder if one of the reasons for the switch is the economic climate. BTB wrote in the 80s, during a boom. We could imagine and empathise with a character dragging themselves up by their bootstraps, in a way that during a recession (a depression?) we can’t find credible. Instead we’re cling to that much more unlikely of events, real life. 

The weather outside is frightful…

Well, it isn’t that bad actually. It’s warmed up a little. And the large pink fluffy slipper boots are definitely keeping my toes toasty. (They won’t last long – the cat will destroy them – but in the meantime I’m wearing them almost every moment I’m in the house.)

I’ve been working hard today, but it is nearly Christmas, so I’ve been enjoying Christmas films in the background. And what more quintessentially Christmassy film than Die Hard or Die Hard 2? Exactly. So a couple of little Christmas presents for you. One is a little video featuring Neil Gaiman, giving you permission. One is a little video which makes you feel a little sad and a little inspired and vow to change your life immediately.  

And finally, one is a little video made by some guys who have clearly learnt the lesson of both of the first two videos and are making the equivalent of a Christmas moonshot: an unsigned, mostly unknown acappella group aiming for a Christmas number 1. If you like that one, please go to Amazon or iTunes and spend the princely sum of 89p to buy a copy of the song. All the proceeds go to supporting student bursaries at St Andrews (one of the most expensive universities for living costs in the UK). And think of the smug ownership when you contribute to a PROPER Christmas song reaching the charts. Just like the ones we used to know. 

All White for Some!

Just a quick post to draw your attention to a lovely new short story prize for those without publishing contracts: The White Review Short Story Prize.

Entry is £15 ,but you have til March 1st next year, and you could win £2,500.