Showing posts with label writing. Show all posts
Showing posts with label writing. Show all posts

Tuesday, 6 October 2020

Listening to my critics

Five years ago, I wrote 'But you are in France, Madame.' I had no particular aspiration to tell my story, no desire to hold a published book in my hands, no illusion that I was doing the world a service by writing - and certainly no belief that it would be a money-making venture. So, why did I do it? I guess it was for me. The thing is that I did not realise that at the time. Neither did I truly understand that my story would be read around the world and that that would open me up to scrutiny ... to criticism. Naive? Probably. 

I have been called a bogan (and similar), my parenting has been questioned and my writing has been pulled apart ... by people who do not know me but feel completely at ease with passing judgement. Some days, the personal attacks are so hurtful that I feel that the only option is to give up ... to stop writing. It usually takes a couple of days before I can once again put into perspective that these anonymous (and most are that) attacks could possibly be saying more about those who write them than me. I slowly pull myself together and start again - before the cycle repeats.

But, I have listened to those who have bothered to write with actionable critiques. You were right: I was inexperienced; I did not know anything about writing or the publishing process. For you, I have updated my files for 'But you are in France, Madame': available in print or ebook by clicking on the links.

And in so doing, I take heart from Germaine Greer*; a stellar, accomplished literary figure. In an interview with Julia Zamiro, she tells us that she did not consider her first book, 'The Female Eunach,' to be her best book but goes on to say that it was the best book that she could write at the time. 

Here's to listening and learning ... and being gentle, or even re-considering, when you feel the urge to be nasty.

*Germaine Greer (/ɡrɪər/; born 29 January 1939) is an Australian writer and public intellectual, regarded as one of the major voices of the radical feminist movement in the later half of the 20th century. (thank-you Wikipedia)








Tuesday, 23 June 2020

But I now know the rules


I've been trying to work out if I've got it in me. Is there a sequel, or a prequel, waiting under my wings? Another book. Many have asked, as they are interested. Who would have thought? They want to know what led up to, and followed on from 'But you are in France, Madame', how I am, how the family is, where we are in the world and how France fits into our lives currently. I am chuffed, flattered and intrigued by this. Indubitably. I just don't know if I can. The stories are there, but something has changed: a new-found shyness, a desire to communicate with the world, and yet, a need for distance.

But you are no longer in France, Madame
The other problem is that I now know the rules.

Is there such a thing as a conservative rebel? If there is, it's me. I have never wanted to be outrageous, noticed or dangerous. In fact, I grew up thinking that I had to toe the line, be polite, give way to others and do what I was told. At the same time, I hated conforming.

'But you are in France, Madame' was written. Yes, passive voice, as I was a passive contributor. The words found their way out. I knew nothing about writing. I knew nothing about publishing. I knew next to nothing about marketing, and I thought I loathed everything to do with social media. Blogging? Uh uh, not for me. Facebook? Nope. Too showy. Instagram? What even is that? Or so I thought.

I didn't follow the 'writing a book' rules the first time around because I simply did not know them.

Much like taking the family to France.

I see that what we did as a family was a rather uninformed leap of faith. Buying a house in France was an even bigger hop, skip and lunge. Figuring out how to live between two countries, on opposite sides of the world, with our lives - and the world - changing constantly, is just huge.


If I had my time again, would I do things differently?

Even though I know with certainty that I made mistakes, both with my writing and our French living, and am clear that things could have been easier or better, my answer is always the same.

How can I be so sure?

Because it led me to you.

And back to me.










As if to put a point final on my thoughts, mid-way through drafting today's blog, I read a post from une âme soeur (a kindred spirit) at A Family In France (excerpt below). One family, three children, five bags (or thereabouts), the promise of a year in the south-west of France and an unfinished, imperfect French connection. Sound familiar?


Today, we are home again, sooner than I intended and still trying to unwind the bureaucratic grip of our French life. 
People ask ‘how was France?’ and I know the answer they want to hear is ‘amazing’. They want the fairytale, the happy ending, the dream fulfilled, tales of incredible adventures and unabashed family bliss. They want the picture perfect village that welcomed us in, lasting friendships and endless fun times.
Like everything in life, the real answer is far more complex. Our French adventure brought highs and lows, sometimes within a single day. It was joyful and it was gut wrenchingly painful. It was hugely challenging and profoundly rewarding. It was fun and it was sombre. It was a time of rich connection and deep loneliness, when we saw our circle shrink and our world expand.
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