Monday, 16 May 2011

Books, etc.

A much-needed holiday, which of course means that I'm running about like a blue-arsed Tory SPAD trying to mop up all the little bits of things I hadn't had time to do for ages. Like some of the legwork on the three books I'm meant to have written and publicised between now and the end of September. I thought I'd drop a quick note about that here, partly to let you all know what's happening, but also because I've got to the stage of sticking my fingers in my ears and humming and pretending it's all not happening, so blogging on it is one way to make sure I actually bloody do it all

So. My book Meat Market: Female Flesh Under Capitalism (Zero Books) is out now. Yay!

I'm also pleased to announced that Pluto Press are publishing a book of my collected columns from 2007-2011, including many from this blog - coming out in October-November this year. Double yay! Last but not least...*drumroll*....

Breaking The Rules, a big book of feminist essays and insurrectionary tactics, is published by Bloomsbury (!) in Spring 2011. This is awesome, not just in the way that a lucky break is awesome, but also in the way that a vast canyon or a huge insurmountable cliff face is awesome. It's due in - all 80,000 words of unsent chapters - in October.

So far, I'm only 1/7 of the way through. *gnaws nails* I've got tons of research, copious notes, and three chapters done, but I haven't actually started the proper writing-without-pause process yet. The very good reasons for this are that even without the book I've been working 70-hour weeks with no days off since May last year, I'm exhausted and overstretched and every day contains thirty other urgent things to do that aren't Write. The. Damn. Book. The very bad reasons, in case you were wondering, are terror, and an encroaching sense that this was all an awful mistake and I can't actually write at all.

Right now I'd give half my laptop for the spare time to settle down and focus. All my professional writing experience so far is living from week to week, column to column, thinking in terms of small 800 word chunks of work rather than vast 80,000 word oceans, so this will be a steep learning curve, especially as I'll be juggling both at once. Does anyone here write books or theses for a living? I'd definitely appreciate some advice!


  1. I thought the section in Meat Market on transgender issues within feminism was particularly solid and persuasive (to the extent that it moved me from a largely-not-giving-a-shit position to an actually-giving-a-shit one). And I appreciated the section on the mind-altering effects of anorexic starvation, which helped me to make better sense of one or two quite traumatised people I've known.

    I also agree strongly, naturally, with your conclusion on the power and necessity of "no"!

  2. that's quite a lot to chew .... in my head i broke down 80,000 words into 800 word blocks, but it didn't look good between now and october alone, let alone with the columns too.

    i hate to say it, but to me extreme busy-ness feels like a symptom of capitalism. i know some people like to be busy, but i very much appreciate having time to feel. right now, i feel really sorry for you. the only thing i can think of is to accept help when it's offered, seek help, and then desperate seek help.

    good luck. don't forget to enjoy your days.

  3. I posted here once already, but the comments ate it - anyway, one thesis written, one book written and another half a book on its way, so here are some things that helped me:

    a) Keep thinking in terms of 800 words since that's a length you feel comfortable with
    b) Paragraphs are 200-300 words usually, so the kind of length you're used to writing at is basically writing a few paragraphs at a time
    c) If your chapters are 8-10,000 words then they're made up of 8-10 blocks of 800 words, with an introduction and a conclusion that are each more or less that length
    d) Some of the blocks of 800 words you write will end up forming longer sections, if there's one issue you want to explore from several angles
    e) Do at least one a day, but if it feels right to go straight from one into another, stick with the momentum
    f) Don't do the introduction or conclusion till you've finished everything else in that chapter or that manuscript, then it will look much more coherent :)
    g) If you're starting to find you overshoot your target word count when you write blocks of 800 words, start thinking in terms of 1,500 instead
    h) Before you sit down to write a block, line up exactly what points you want to make and what data/quotes you want to introduce in it (be strategic - if you use that amazing quote in chapter 3 then it probably can't be reused for that other really telling moment in chapter 4)
    i) Embrace the days when things go really fast and you've finished your daily tasks for the book at twice the speed you thought you would (this will happen, and the really slow and uninspired days will happen too)
    j) I'm looking forward to reading this book!

  4. Give yourself a break when you need it, which is something only you can judge. Often, when you're exhausted, the best way you can use your time is to rest/sleep. It's better to spend those hours when you're too knackered to produce quantity or quality re-energising rather than wasting them flogging a dead horse(or a very tired Laurie).
    Good luck with the book(s). You deserve it.

  5. As long as it is always 'big problem for women but fine for men' there will be no answer. Is selling sexual services to survive any worse than selling other services at the employer's beck and call? Why is what is acceptable for men not so for women? More so, why are women content to traditionally allow men to be exploited as they will not themselves, and mostly it is the ones calling themselves 'feminists' who howl the most objection to men respecting women's traditional values and wanting to be equal with them instead of reducing women to the same cogs in the dehumanized economic machine (Capitalist or Socialist)? Feminism has become a conservative tool intended to enforce on women the traditional expectations of men and to eliminate the personal values that women managed to preserve. The feminist message is that all things economic & masculine are without question superior to all things personal and feminine, so women are inferior unless they conform to the standards demanded of men instead of standing against them to liberate men from them. So very different from the 1960s!

  6. Had a friend who was in the thick of a political fight, got a deal to write 3 books more or less tenously connected to it. We never heard from him again.

    That was 2003.

    Still, I'm, er, sure it'll work out for you.

  7. The economics of punditry presumably force you to constantly spew out text just to keep afloat. But I'd much rather you could write less and better.

    Maybe one day your reputation will let you write one article per week, make it really count, and still pay the rent. We can dream;)

  8. Hi Penny,

    I am most of the way through your Meat Market now. I find myself wincing at the chapter on domestic work. Yes, I was raised thinking of my mother as "the magic that makes the mess go away" and yes I am now oopsing and feeling guilty about that, and intend to apologize abjectly when she gets back from holiday. And yes, that does mean I didn't get taught the housework. And I've used that "who cares about dirt" excuse. Argh. I suck.

    Full disclosure: I'm trans (in progress). And I liked your chapter on trans women but you did miss something out, and it's very evident when you quote a cis woman on trans women's incomes ("a cupboard full of fuck-me-boots"): trans women as a class are poor. They transition out of a privileged class to a class with less privilege than cis women, and they spend a lot of money doing it - or can't, and make do. It's horrendously bad in the USA, but even over here NHS doesn't cover boob jobs, facial reconstruction, or hair removal, and they are picky about what surgery they fund. And recovering from surgery takes job-losing amounts of time. I wonder how many of the trans women you listed as non-op are actually that way by preference, and how many are simply unable to afford it in one way or another.

    Anyhow, thank you for writing this, its good.

  9. Laurie, this might read as daft but it may work. Remember a few months ago when you asked your readers to relate an experience that made them (and hence, you) angry? Go pick a fight with a bigot on a message board. Your passion will kick right up. There's no shortage of choices, either :) Might I suggest anything at all to do with the Casey Anthony trial here in Orlando?

    That leads to a reporter following it live, blogging comments. The comments are priceless. I apologize in advance for the rather amazing population of adult bigots and small children who enjoy typing comments as the trial is broadcast. Comments are broadcast in a nice little box just below the live broadcast of the trial. Oh, and sad to say, all our wonderful soap operas have been moved to 3am or so to make room for day (and sometimes night) long coverage of this incredibly serious death penalty case.

    I won't worry you with the details and I suggest you don't either. Just let all the bizarre gender specific hatred get your guns running. In the end, no one knows who the hell or what the hell is going on. It's the opinions that are priceless.

    Just a thought :p Some of the best arguments I've been part of have started on the internet. Makes me long for school :( Quote and cite as best as you can then it will be fresh later on.

    Best of luck to you! Please, please, please ask your publisher to make your book kindle ready on the US Amazon site! Gosh, you're a good'un :)

  10. Hi Laurie, long time reader first time, er, "commenter". Anyway I saw this link to the London Literature Festival and thought that this event on "the New Student Rebellion" might interest you if you've not heard about it already.

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  12. Ah yes ... Pluto Press. Didn't they print several books denying Serb war crimes, including Srebrenica. Apparently they are also planing something by Ed Herman 'disproving' the genocide in Rwanda. Lovely people. Well done you!

  13. A bit late, I know, but having written three books and now busy with my fourth, I know the only way to get it done is to set yourself a programme (I know, boring, but true). Make those 800 word bites 1600 and try to follow a regime. If need be, put the 1600 word bites on a private blog and get feedback from a few friends (what I do, and it keeps me writing). I know lots of writers much more brilliant than I am, but who never manage to make it to a book. It's sad, because they should...they are far better than I will ever be, but getting the length is about keeping at it, and keeping at it is following a plan you know you can stick to. All the best! You are a fantastic writer!

  14. Thank you for this wonderful and angry book. I also like the length - all that truth that's in there speaks a lot louder because you're so precise and provocative.

    I'm a native German speaker, living in Berlin - though I read very well it would be awesome to have it translated in as many languages as possible.

    Sadly, I am not a teacher. It would be a great read for younger girls, too. I have found that women find feminism often too late to help make their lives and the lives of others better.

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