An Ode to Vaguebooking: Arguments That Never Happen in the Spec Fic World
Dear Fellow Writers,
Recently there was a vague Facebook status on a popular page (a vaguebook if you will), that indicated that writers are not allowed to write about the same topics as each other, especially not if they are friends. The status publicly shamed people who wrote about the same topic as the poster and anyone who dared to say that it isn’t cool to try to publicly humiliate those who write about the same topic as you merely for writing in the same field were called bullies. Ironic. So let’s see how this would play out if it is in fact appropriate to bags topics and deny your friends and others the right to write about the same issues as you… as we all know about six degrees of separation we can’t just leave it to divide topics amongst those nearest and dearest because they’ll somehow be connected to the big players. So let’s see what this would look like on a large scale. Let’s look at the celebrated writers.
I personally would need to throw out a bunch of work because I recently read a wonderful book by internationally acclaimed Kate Forsyth where she recasts an old tale (The Beast’s Garden) so that means I would have to scrap the “Asylum” series that even Garth Nix himself felt had merit (oh yes, that’s a shameless brag, shameless and proud – I did a course with him and he read my first chapter). I really quite liked it… shit, better throw out Snake Song whilst I’m at it. An established writer has already done this kind of thing so I’d just be a “random” or a pretender and never as good, that’s what the vaguebook post stated. I apparently would totally deserve a public dismissal if I ever tried… But then again, Margo Lanagan writes retellings of old folk lore, Tender Morsels, READ IT, it is brilliant. And I’ve heard that Kate Forsyth and Margo Lanagan are friends so I guess Dr Forsyth would have to pull all those books from shelves… but oh wait, Juliet Marillier wrote Daughter of the Forest, one of the best spec fic books of all time in my humble opinion. Does this mean Lanagan and Forsyth would both have to pull work from publication? My brain is about to seep out of my ears now that I think of Sophie Masson. They all breathe fresh life into old tales. And I’m pretty sure they’re all friends. (This assumption is based on hearing them speak at festivals and avidly following them on social media.) I’m pretty sure they all recommend each others books too. Oh my brain.
It’s pretty clear in the Spec Fic world that nobody owns a topic or sub genre or issue or whatever. There is enough unique voice in each and every one of us that we can write about the same things without it being a threat to anyone else because we will all do it our own way.
Thank you Australian Speculative Fiction Women Writers for showing the true spirit of writing comradeship. You are an inspiration to me daily and you do the whole writing community proud. I’m thankful for your generous spirit towards up and coming, and established authors alike. May we all be more like you and raise more people like you too.
My heart is bursting with Speculative Fiction pride at the moment but…
I’d like to note this same kind of comradary is seen in other genres. To give just one example, both Lisa Heidke and Anita Heiss write fabulous “Chick Lit” novels and are best friends. At least from my cyber stalking they seem to be. And both encourage upcoming writers beautifully.
In the blogasphere there is Kerri Sackville (also an author) and Lana Hirschowitz that come readily to mind. They are constantly referencing each other on their pages and even sharing some of the same stuff. They are always encouraging of people commenting and participating. So this encouragement in writers isn’t just in the novel world. It is on Facebook, on Twitter and on Blogs.
Writers by and large are awesome and generous. Don’t let anyone vaguebook you into thinking otherwise.
If you are unfamiliar with any of these women please search them out and follow their pages/blogs/tweets/books. Support those who support others.
This is serious? I guess there are benefits to being a head case unknown hack of a writer.
Yes I seriously believe that the writing community by and large is generous and supportive.
I also seriously believe that people can write about the same thing. How many fantastic versions of the King Arthur story are there? And I’m always happy to read more… in fact always happy for recommendations on more. Can’t get enough.
Ha! You know what I think about that whole debacle…. And yes, I have found the writing community to be overwhelmingly supportive. That was an aberration. xx
An ill thought out moment. Or, more an ill “felt” out situation without thought. I think it was a feeling that hadn’t been thought through. That’s what I’m going with. Unlike me. Everything I post is always totes thought out. Never an inappropriate moment shared on here… 🙂
Sweet Bay Cheeses, why does everyone assume Anita and I are besties! We are rivals. Serious rivals! She envies my breasts and vocabulary and I envy her beach side apartment…and breasts! Seriously, Anita has street cred. I have cat cred. Somehow, we manage we co-exist. I am a better human being because of Anita. (BTW, my latest book, The Callahan Split is out NOW!)
For those who don’t already have it, see here for details – http://lisaheidke.com/?page_id=527
I feel like I am in very good company! Thank you for thinking of me and including me.
Great post and I can’t tell you how happy I am to have found your blog
I feel like there’s a celebrity meeting going on in my comments section and I’m pretty darned happy about that. Thanks so much for stopping in.
So nice to see this post, that came up in the FB of the wonderful Lisa Heidke I’m not a celebrity but I know a lot of Australian authors and they are wonderfully supportive of each other. Great post, thanks!
Not to come across like someone who stalks writers… but if you’re this Anna Maguire http://www.digireado.com.au/ then in my mind you most certainly are. Walter Mason often says in his presentations – bring the spirit of fandom to writing. One day he’ll catch sight of me and say, “except for you, Robin. You need to dial it down a bit.”
Wow, I am honoured! I feel like I’m basking in the glow of fandom now (a rare feeling). And I love Walter Mason who is one of the nicest people I know! x
I have a theory. If you can’t love Walter then you can’t love anyone. 🙂
I would SO agree! He’s one of the best speakers I’ve seen in action too. He’s funny, informative, generous and knowledgeable.
He’s just such a special person to be in the presence of. He’s like a modern day prophet. I always feel lighter for hearing his voice.
Fab post on the subject! And I’ll throw one more example at you – myself and my two sisters (Liane and Jaclyn Moriarty) are all writers and despite that fact we somehow manage not to huge domestic melt-downs over the turkey at Christmas lunch… in fact, we all love each others books! 🙂
Great post Robin. I think the writing community is the most supportive of all the art forms (call me biased). The rare occasion you might experience the above is more about the individual than the collective I am proud to be part of! Welcome!
I guess it is like all work environments, the good, the bad, and the ugly.
There is just nothing, absolutely nothing that hasn’t already been written. Maybe a blank book would be the first… although I’m not sure about that .
So true, nothing new under the son.