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Editing for authors: because every writer needs a good editor.

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Harlequin

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At a fundamental level, writing does require money and education that we take for granted. Folks don't think of school as being a luxury but in some places it is. My grandmother lived and died illiterate - no amount of wishing on her part would have made her a writer, she spent too much of her life just trying to stay alive. More specifically, she had no opportunity to *dream* of writing because it was so far removed from her sphere, as a thing, as a concept... you don't dream of being a writer when you don't read or have access to books. Those are just meaningless words.

Maybe a bit of an extreme position but I think about her a lot these days (she's been passed for two decades now...), especially while writing a story set partially in WW2 Hong Kong, an era through which she lived.

I do take some pride, right or wrong, in writing books without the benefit of certain connections or experiences that are touted as useful or even essentially (usually by the people charging for them lol). But I'm also forever and acutely aware that as a baseline, being able to write required a foundation of advantages that I'm still lucky to have. Mostly, exposure to books, free education till 18, and a various other few things.

I'm rambling now :)
 

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At a fundamental level, writing does require money and education that we take for granted. Folks don't think of school as being a luxury but in some places it is. My grandmother lived and died illiterate - no amount of wishing on her part would have made her a writer, she spent too much of her life just trying to stay alive.

Well, provided you live in a nation with public education -- and that public education is open to everybody (unlike some nations which restrict it by gender) -- you technically have a bare minimum. And when you look at the map today, most nations offer free primary education (and it's generally compulsory):


That said, I was taught to read more by my mom than by my school, so... technically you don't need to rely on public education. And I probably learned more through reading than I ever did at any school, which was a mix of borrowing books from friends, libraries, etc (although that would assumes a culture that has books... which, I mean, technically most cultures do these days).

But I think the topic is more talking about reasonable levels of broke, not impoverished, third-world nation levels of broke (although, even in some third-world nations, you still have people who know how to read, including people who are largely self-taught -- and, as the map shows, most third-world nations offer free primary education (bearing in mind that there are caveats for some nations)). Obviously you also have cultures were written language doesn't even exist (although those are getting fewer and fewer), but it feels disingenuous to bring those extreme outliers into a pragmatic discussion about expectations in the first and second-world.

And honestly, even before public education, people without formal education learned to read and write. However, back then, the infrastructure didn't really exist for authors, although many cultures had author-analogs.

I do take some pride, right or wrong, in writing books without the benefit of certain connections or experiences that are touted as useful or even essentially (usually by the people charging for them lol). But I'm also forever and acutely aware that as a baseline, being able to write required a foundation of advantages that I'm still lucky to have. Mostly, exposure to books, free education till 18, and a various other few things.

I honestly don't think that a lot of formal education really adds much to a writer's ability. The baseline is reading and writing, then a lot of the practical side is reading and then practicing writing. There's probably value to a really good writing course, but most of the people who take those courses are already driven and have studied it on their own.

More broadly, I think all of my writing professors had MFAs, yet not one was trade-published (which also limited their ability to teach about the industry because they hadn't really experienced it, so I got a lot of advice that was just flat-out wrong at times). That's why I don't necessarily view people who don't have a college-background in writing as being any different from those who do.

Connections, on the other hand, can make a person's career if you know people on the publishing side. But how many people realistically have those kinds of connections?
 
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Harlequin

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re the topic at hand-- technically, I requested it, and admin kindly obliged by making a thread, so I don't feel like I've strayed too far from, er, my own discussion ;):LOL: But I could be biased, of course.

My broader point is simply that writing does benefit from a degree of privilege, which I don't think is contentious, but also that after a certain point, that privilege maybe yields diminishing returns. The less means you have, the more creative you will have to be to close those gaps and acquire substitute advantages, but past a certain point the disadvantages really do stack up.

I'm in no way a proponent of MFAs, and had never heard of them until a few years ago. HAven't done one and outside of litfic circles, I don't think they're a great help (and inside litfic circles, only certain MFAs are useful.)

But formal education is more broadly about connections than anything. A quick look at the hugo list and you'll see a lot of people who have passed through Clarion West, for example, which is largely inaccessible to people outside the States and below a certain income. (Yes, I know they offer scholarships, but those don't realistically cover your costs in most cases, not when factoring in child care, job loss, and other amounts.) Clarion West connects you directly to editors and bigger-name authors, and that can make a difference in all sorts of ways.

It is of course manageable without--these forums are full of folk who've never gone to Clarion West (me included) but they are nonetheless connections we've missed out on :) and workshop or exposure opportunities we can't participate in. This is without going into the disability or accessibility side (because I could talk all day about the dearth of openly autistic authors in trad publishing, but that WOULD be a derail ;) )

It's genuinely lovely that your mother taught you to read, but in order to do that, she had herself to know how to read; there was was no one in my mother's home to do this (so she learnt at school). My mother likewise taught me to read, and in turn I found it straightforward to teach my daughter to read, but English is a very easy language compared to Chinese, and I was already literate myself (as was my mother), and we both had access to cheap resources to do so. Anyone from any country can of course succeed, it's simply harder in some areas than others, and language barriers probably don't help, even in foreign developed nations.

But if this feels like too much of a digression, then perhaps better to let it go for now. It was only intended as a musing.
 

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FWIW, I didn't have any idea things like Clarion West existed until I found myself encountering the SF cliques. There are absolutely social circles within the genre that are related to Clarion and other workshops. And yes, those connections matter, and can make a difference when it comes to fandom-based awards like the Hugo and the Nebula.

I did a panel once where another author - part of one of these social circles - was opining about how fabulous a particular workshop was, and how people should absolutely apply, and most of the audience was high school students. The "but there are scholarships!" argument always irritates me, because yes, scholarships are great - but as you point out, not everybody has a job that lets them take time off.

As a society, we understand pretty well that money is a class divider. I think people are less conscious of how much time is a class divider. Just having a job with predictable hours - never mind official vacation time - allows for a huge amount of flexibility so many people don't have.
 

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re the topic at hand-- technically, I requested it, and admin kindly obliged by making a thread, so I don't feel like I've strayed too far from, er, my own discussion ;):LOL:

lol, hadn't realized. And iirc, up until now it'd certainly gone in a different direction.

My broader point is simply that writing does benefit from a degree of privilege, which I don't think is contentious, but also that after a certain point, that privilege maybe yields diminishing returns. The less means you have, the more creative you will have to be to close those gaps and acquire substitute advantages, but past a certain point the disadvantages really do stack up.

Here's the thing, though -- when public education is nearly universal these days, do we still call it privilege? With rare exception, everybody seems to have access (to varying degrees) these days. Granted, there are many forms of privilege -- I have a non-verbal, mentally disabled relative who, because of that disability, will never be able to care for himself. In many ways, any able-bodied person is far more privileged than he'll ever be, despite the fact he has the advantage of relatives to care for him and he lives in a first-world nation. He'll never be able to speak, let alone write. :(

But formal education is more broadly about connections than anything. A quick look at the hugo list and you'll see a lot of people who have passed through Clarion West, for example, which is largely inaccessible to people outside the States and below a certain income. (Yes, I know they offer scholarships, but those don't realistically cover your costs in most cases, not when factoring in child care, job loss, and other amounts.) Clarion West connects you directly to editors and bigger-name authors, and that can make a difference in all sorts of ways.

That kinda comes back to one of my previous points -- the people who wind up in those programs tend to be super-serious and committed enough to make a substantial investment. You're kinda crediting all of that success to the program rather than the individual and, while I'm sure that the program and its community conveys highly useful connections, the individual has to be able to get into the program in the first place, and then they also need to excel within that space. By attributing all of their success to that program, you're diminishing people who I assume are still very talented authors regardless of what connections they receive.

As for people outside the US, if somebody has the means, they could likely attend it.

(Beyond that, I'll admit I'd never heard of Clarion West prior to you mentioning it. I'm not sure if that necessarily means that I'm not the right level of serious that I miss details like that, or if it's something you'd only know about if you're really keyed into writing programs.)

It's genuinely lovely that your mother taught you to read, but in order to do that, she had herself to know how to read; there was was no one in my mother's home to do this (so she learnt at school).

Her mother taught her, her father taught her, and his father was self-taught. Or maybe there's one more generation in there. Once you go far back enough, education was less available.
 

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It's more just a commentary to the gentle undercurrent in writing communities of "everything is doable if you try"-- well, I guess. I'm really cautious of saying that, for a thousand and one reasons.

Trying is what gets you in the game. Everything after that is the roulette wheel.
 

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Or the family has four kids but can only afford one school uniform, so the kids share it and take turns by the day on which of them wears it and attends school.

ETA yeah NZ does a lot of things right but this ain't one of them. Kidscan is our default go-to charity.
 
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I think being broke has its advantages on writing and not a set back at all!

Almost a year ago to the day, I suddenly had gobs of time and property taxes to pay for. So I did what I could as I saved my money: I wrote novels.

I just got done my 4th 85,000 word plus novel, with half of a 5th one in the works. All because I had time and no money.

As for publishing, I realized they have been printing and binding books since the 1600,s so why.could I not do that in 2021?

it took some money I admit, but not much, and doing lots of research and with a learning curve that went strait up hill, starting printing my own books. It took a lot of mistakes, but my homemade books now look like the ones you buy with a book costing about $2 a book to print.

Broke only means you have to be more creative to get what you want in life. It does not always mean you need to cut a check to do it.

You got this: have confidence!
 

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I also wanted to say that you should take heart too. Things were pretty bleak while I was going through cancer and had no money as I was not working at all, but things can change pretty fast.
 

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I've thought a lot about a reply because I do believe it was well intentioned, but at the the same time... the sentiment that "it isn't expensive, you only have to spend X" is something which has been said to me a lot over the years. All it did was put me in a position where I have to explain that even X, however little it seems to other people, wasn't affordable. Someone gave me a blow by blow budget once for how to publish for about 250 in total on the assumption that this wasn't much money, and you just have to laugh it off. šŸ˜‚ I mean that's 8 weeks of food groceries, or was at the time.

I think this is possibly an issue of goals. If the goal is just to publish then yes, it can cost as little as you like, but for me specifically I wanted to make good sales that justified my time and money spent, and for self pub thst does ofter require initial outlY of a minimum amount. Actually, trade does require that too, but the diff is that someone else is spending it for you, which makes it more accessible providing you csm convince them to fork out.

I suppose it depends on genre, too. Trying to budget publish adult romance is very diff from children's picture books or adult fantasy, all three have their own quirks and requirements and costs (kidlit being near impossible to publish cheaply in self pub).

I am doing good these days, though - trade worked out or is working so far, and I'm no longer nearly so skint.

I'm glad things got better for you though, especially health wise. Really, genuinely glad. Cancer is terribly scary.
 

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I've thought a lot about a reply because I do believe it was well intentioned, but at the the same time... the sentiment that "it isn't expensive, you only have to spend X" is something which has been said to me a lot over the years. All it did was put me in a position where I have to explain that even X, however little it seems to other people, wasn't affordable. Someone gave me a blow by blow budget once for how to publish for about 250 in total on the assumption that this wasn't much money, and you just have to laugh it off. šŸ˜‚ I mean that's 8 weeks of food groceries, or was at the time.

Technically you can self-publish for $0, if you DIY everything. And there are certainly self-published books where you can tell the creator didn't spend anything other than sweat equity.
 

Harlequin

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Yeah, that's what I mean by it depends on goals - if the aim is to just be published then it need not cost anything except time (see next paragraph) :)

Just depends on what you want. My dad self-published at essentially no cost and was happy with that.
 

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Well... I guess, if you have access to everything you need, and the safety and time and security and and and...

That's just taking it into absurd hypotheticals, though. Yes, a person who comes from society without books won't have the tools, resources, or knowledge that books exist -- but how reflective is that of virtually anywhere in the world today? It gets to a point where we fixate on "realities" that aren't reality for 99.9% of people.

And honestly, even during the times in my life where I was working 70+ hours a week between 2 jobs, I *had* other hours. Yeah, I was busy, but I could have used that other time better. There were times when I got off work after midnight and had to be back in at 7am where I still somehow found time to watch some tv.
 

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That's just taking it into absurd hypotheticals, though. Yes, a person who comes from society without books won't have the tools, resources, or knowledge that books exist -- but how reflective is that of virtually anywhere in the world today? It gets to a point where we fixate on "realities" that aren't reality for 99.9% of people.

Reflective of quite a lot of places. That a society has books doesn't mean that everyone has access to those books. You're fixating on a small proportion of the world's population that has the privileges of free schools and libraries, as well as spare time. It's an incredibly narrow focus.

And honestly, even during the times in my life where I was working 70+ hours a week between 2 jobs, I *had* other hours. Yeah, I was busy, but I could have used that other time better. There were times when I got off work after midnight and had to be back in at 7am where I still somehow found time to watch some tv.

Oh, and television. Which you can watch while doing other things. If you have electricty...and a television, I guess.
 

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That's just taking it into absurd hypotheticals, though. Yes, a person who comes from society without books won't have the tools, resources, or knowledge that books exist -- but how reflective is that of virtually anywhere in the world today? It gets to a point where we fixate on "realities" that aren't reality for 99.9% of people.
3.7 billion people in this world have no internet access.
 

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I think finding time is usually possible but finding energy is maybe a different thing. It can be very difficult to write when you are stressed or burnt out. Watching tv after a job isn't laziness or misusing your time - I'd argue that was a very valuable act of recharging lol!

We need leisure too :) I write so much better now that I'm not burnt out constantly. We all do I'm sure.
 

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Reflective of quite a lot of places. That a society has books doesn't mean that everyone has access to those books. You're fixating on a small proportion of the world's population that has the privileges of free schools and libraries, as well as spare time. It's an incredibly narrow focus.

But if you don't have access to books, why would you aspire to write books? The premise is fundamentally flawed. Just like there's a pretty fundamental difference between "broke" and living in starvation-level conditions

You're fixating on a relatively small portion of the population that wouldn't know to be interested in writing. The vast majority of people who aspire to write come from circumstances where they have access to books, which is why they aspire to write.

Oh, and television. Which you can watch while doing other things. If you have electricty...and a television, I guess.

...which again comes back into the bizarre hypotheticals.
 

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But if you don't have access to books, why would you aspire to write books? The premise is fundamentally flawed. Just like there's a pretty fundamental difference between "broke" and living in starvation-level conditions

You're fixating on a relatively small portion of the population that wouldn't know to be interested in writing. The vast majority of people who aspire to write come from circumstances where they have access to books, which is why they aspire to write.



...which again comes back into the bizarre hypotheticals.

This is so arse about I don't know where to start.
 

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This is so arse about I don't know where to start.

...and yet that hasn't stopped me from responding to your posts where you're posited bad faith argument after bad faith argument. I feel like we're having two separate arguments. I'm discussing the prospect of people who want to write being able to write, and you seem to be talking about the possibility of any human being -- regardless of interest in writing -- to be able to write. And there's a large portion of the planet that, for any number of reasons (some within their control, some outside their control, and some in-between), has absolutely no interest in writing. (Or even no interest in reading.)

And whether you're rich or broke, have all the time in the world or very little time, if you're not interested in writing, you're not going to write (or want to write). An interest in writing is generally a requisite for writing.
 

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That's just taking it into absurd hypotheticals, though. Yes, a person who comes from society without books won't have the tools, resources, or knowledge that books exist -- but how reflective is that of virtually anywhere in the world today? It gets to a point where we fixate on "realities" that aren't reality for 99.9% of people.
Firstly - quite a lot of the world does not have books or access to books, and many places that do have books and education are hampered by things like war. Quite a lot of the world does not allow parts of its society to read. You'd perhaps be surprised how real that reality is for quite a lot of the world.

And honestly, even during the times in my life where I was working 70+ hours a week between 2 jobs, I *had* other hours. Yeah, I was busy, but I could have used that other time better. There were times when I got off work after midnight and had to be back in at 7am where I still somehow found time to watch some tv.
Good for you.
 
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mccardey

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But if you don't have access to books, why would you aspire to write books? The premise is fundamentally flawed. Just like there's a pretty fundamental difference between "broke" and living in starvation-level conditions

You're fixating on a relatively small portion of the population that wouldn't know to be interested in writing. The vast majority of people who aspire to write come from circumstances where they have access to books, which is why they aspire to write.



...which again comes back into the bizarre hypotheticals.
What an extraordinary way of looking at things you do have.
 

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An interest in writing is generally a requisite for writing.
Not to unsteady your soapbox or anything, but have you ever wondered how the whole writing thing got started - if people who didn't know how to do it had no interest in doing it... how did it happen?

Ditto books. Before there were books, there were no books. And yet here they are.

Ditto publishing.

Ditto - all sorts of stuff.
 
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