Monday, October 13, 2008

It pays to be a boy scout/girl guide...

I was horrified watching an item on the television programme 60 minutes last night. The item was looking at the spending habits of young females. One gorgeous young thing in her early twenties in particular had my blood boiling. With the global financial crisis making the lucky ones tighten their belts and the less lucky wondering where they might sleep or when they might next eat, this brainless lovely had a weekly spend on her credit cards of around $1500. It was her right as a human being to treat herself. I believe in treating myself too if things have been particularly stressful or something particularly special or exciting has happened. But she treated herself because it was another day. And her treats were high end luxury items. Her clothes had designer labels, she drank expensive wine and was considering buying a $60,000 car. On credit. Shopping made her happy. Her shopping made me unhappy. How could she not know that spending comes after earning. Her values and attitude shocked me. If she represents the next generation I feel very afraid.

Whilst net trawling this morning, I've come across a couple of interesting posts that got me thinking. NZ crime writer Vanda Symon's latest post reviews the last session at the Burns Festival in Dunedin on NZ literature. Read her review here: As did one of the pannellists (Catherine Chidgey), I've often wondered if it is only writers like ourselves who know NZ writers and books so well. If you asked Joe Public how many NZ writers and their books they could name, and how many NZ books had they read in the past 12 months what would the response be? For myself, I read book sections in magazines and papers, read reviews and regularly check out whats new at the bookshops, but does Joe Public? Ms Chidgey contrasted the NZ reality with that in Ireland, where all Irish writers are known. How did they achieve that and how can we do it here. Should it form a bigger part of a childs education to know who our greats are? To paraphrase Ms Chidgey, 'when will our writers be on cards in weetbix packets, traded with excitement in the playground at lunchtime.' The other comment that really got me thinking was the idea that NZ literature was ghettoised by having its own section in bookshops and we would truely have matured as a reading/book buying nation when NZ writers were mixed in with the rest of the world. This kind of took me by surprise and I'm not sure whether I agree or not. I like that it makes my book easier to find. But does it somehow subordinate our writing to what comes from overseas. Perhaps when all kiwis know all NZ writers then we can be mixed in or maybe being mixed in is an important part of the process of getting to that point. I'm not sure.

The other post that caught my eye this morning was by Justine Larbalestier (link over on your right listed under extremely cool people). With some of her pals having books coming out soon she was giving advice on preparing for author talks and book tours by looking at the most often asked questions at such events.

Where did you get your ideas for this book?

Where do you get your ideas?

What were/are your inspirations?

When did you decide you wanted to be a writer?

And Whats your favourite book/author?

Justine looks at how these questions might be approached. While these all might seem simple and predictable and straightforward it never hurts to consider your repsonse to each one before throwing yourself out there. We assume the answers to the obvious will come easy but if you have a smart and/or witty reply tucked away in your mind it will leave room free for adlibbing on the questions you never saw coming like what does your husband earn (and I have actually had this question from a seven year old - you have been warned). It probably pays to also spend a bit of time thinking of answers to questions like favourite food, colour, animal, and place to write. The more organised you are, the cleverer you will appear!

1 comment:

Fifi Colston said...

I got asked the other day at a school 'What do you like doing with your family?' which I thought was a really good question given that working in the arts can be a preoccupying and self absorbed process. To say 'I tell them to go away and leave me alone' would be the total antithesis of being a producer of entertaining things for children. But it did make me consider on the spot what I like to do with my family- and one of things was play Scrabble which we all enjoy- even the teenagers. And that's a good wordy thing is it not?
P.S enjoying your latest blogs