Wednesday, November 27, 2013

No relation...

It would not be an overstatement, I think, to say that this year has been somewhat busy. Now that I have handed in my final assignment, launched my latest book While You Are Sleeping (with a purpose built cake of course)

and agreed with the editor on some last text changes for next year's picture book I have been kicking back just a little (here lunching with some terrific writery pals - Maria Gill, Victoria Azaro, Elena de Roo and with Jane Bloomfield behind the camera).

Somehow this year, while Christmas is on the same date in the same week that it always is, I can't help feeling that everyone has already started their end of year wind down. And that includes me. It seems oddly early and normally this would worry me as I don't like the usual wind down timings and struggle with not having the access to people, businesses and processes that I enjoy having the rest of the year (although I am sure they need their rest from me :) But I feel like I have sucked the marrow out of 2013. On the whole it has been a good year. I am content to wind down with the rest of the world and potter away at my current projects. What has happened to me??? Maybe I am growing up. I hope not.

I am trying to be a bit more zen about things anyways. Being on social media brings people in regular contact with a whole raft of problems, crises and issues and makes the world seem as if it is in a permanent state of exploding, imploding or falling apart. I often feel angry or wound up about all the injustices and while the concerns are important and taking action is worthwhile, existing in a constant state of feeling over-wound can't be healthy. So I'm trying to pick my battles, think of proactive things I can do to contribute to positive change and trying to throw off the associated stress. A current frustration is the lack of respect shown to children's literature within the local literary scene. I have lamented in the past that children's literature seems like the poor relation of adult fiction in New Zealand. Sometimes I think maybe I'm overstating things, or being too sensitive. My mistake. Apparently it is no relation at all. All too often anecdotal evidence demonstrates that I am not nearly sensitive enough. Our children's literary community is very strong in New Zealand. Children's fiction publications in New Zealand would surely outnumber adult fiction every year (adult/general non fiction I suspect would dominate all other categories). We are producing quality material. Folk might say our persistent inability to sell overseas is indicative of not quite making the mark in comparison to foreign books. But if you consider that the business end of publishing and distribution often wants to see the success of a title before taking it on elsewhere and we can never hope to demonstrate the desirable kinds of numbers in a population of 4 and a half million people or interest from a sophisticated yet still too small television or film industry, do we face impossible odds? And while our wines, our indigenous culture, our take on fashion and hobbits seem desirably exotic, this surprisingly does not extend to our children's literature. And when opportunities for introducing our work to a bigger market arise, despite the relative size of our children's writing community and that the resulting publications are a significant proportion of all annual publications here, we continue to be grossly under-represented at international events. We don't get seen at these events, or feted, or promoted. No wonder the rest of the world is unaware of us. Folk are generally unaware of us here. I know some sectors are very good at knowing us and supporting us but other sectors, who might also make a significant long term difference for us, don't share this approach.   I do not want to just be grumpy about this. I like to think there might be a solution to this problem. Maybe the summer hiatus will provide me with some good thinking time.

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