I had very fine intentions this week. I was going to say something Wise. Then I was going to say something Important. Then I was going to move back to my introductions to my own books, and talk about a novel.
It’s summer here, however, and the heat has melted my brain. This is why I normally write in the wee hours of my morning at this time of year: there is less heat then.
So what was I doing in the wee hours of my Monday morning? Why was I not writing to you? I finished my monthly Patreon newsletter, and sent it out. What you get from me today, then, is a pause. If you want to know more about my Patreon, you can find it here: https://www.patreon.com/GillianPolack
This month my patrons asked me to talk about antisemitism. There’s a short story where I tried (and failed) to find a way of explaining the cultural loss it incurs. There is non-fiction that gives some explanation. There’s some (very personal) advice for writers who come from mainstream culture. It explains the first big step they can take to write about people who come from different backgrounds to themselves. Without this first step, other understanding can be shallow, and so the writing is less than it should be. And, for my top tier of patrons, I talked about what’s happening in the publishing industry. I pointed to the need to support writers in these very, very difficult times. My estimate is that the next three years is going to lose us many favourite writers: support from readers is the biggest factor in many of us staying the distance.
All this boils down to the appearance of my once-a-policy-wonk self. It’s talking to my historian self. I’m looking at the shape of publishing and its internal dynamics and patterns of change over time… it’s all a bit too exciting.
If you want to know more about any of the subjects I talk about on Patreon, I can talk about them here, on Mondays. My patrons get first look, though, so it won’t be instant. And since I’m no longer paid for my insights, writing about the big subjects that tax my brain is a low priority. I’ll still work at understanding everything (we all have our obsessions – I have this one and I have chocolate), but I can’t take it further. Income matters.
My highest priority right now is writing about my research. (I get paid for it!) This month and next I’m focused on food and foodways and history and genre. A curious side-effect of this research is that I think I finally understand what makes certain writers popular. I can trace the critical aspects of their fiction and have linked them clearly to things of cultural importance in the outside world. This fit with all my earlier work, but it means I understand far, far better what makes a work a best-seller when an equally good work dies in a ditch. (I love my research so very much!)
I’m gradually working through the physical morass I’ve been in for the last few months. When I’m out of it, I’ll return to interviewing writers. I have so many amazing writers to interview!
In the meantime – including next week – I’ll keep introducing my own work.
If you want to see me at a conference, I’ll be at the virtual side of Boskone in February.
And now, if you’ll excuse me, I go to ponder food in fiction.