Monday, January 17, 2011

Help!! What to talk about in London?

See the problem is I know what I know and don't really know what I know which is different from what other people know. You get me??

SO- I'm supposed to speak in London about how it is to be a writer in Botswana. I know some things are different, for example we make little to no money from the trades, we don't use agents, etc.

But my question to you dear readers who are so helpful and lovely- if you were walking into a talk by a writer from Botswana, what would you want to know from that person? What would you expect them to speak about?

I am sending you all sorts of kisses and hugs in advance for the use of your brilliant minds.


Sue Guiney said...

I think the 2 biggest things is the role of the schools in publishing, and the non-role of agents. But I would think if you just lay out what your reality is like in Botswana, people will draw their own conclusions and find the differences and similarities themselves. he similarities can be as interesting as the differences. And of course the is the question....why don't we hear about writers from Botswana (other thuan you, of course). We know they must be out there, but why don't we get to read them?

Sue Guiney said...

Yikes...just re-read my comment. Sorry about all the typos. I guess I'm still pretty bad at typing on my new iPad!au

Lauri said...

Oh new iPad- so jealous!!!

Yes, I think you're right about people coming to their own conclusions.

Thanks for your kind words but really I doubt anyone in the crowd will have heard of me either. It's true we do struggle to get out of our country.
Thanks Sue!

Neil said...

Hi. Partly, it depends on the audience. If they are writers who are thinking about leaving the UK to live and work overseas - maybe in Botswana, mabye somewhere else – then I guess there are practical questions you could answer.

But if you were just talking to me – a writer who lives in England and isn't planing to go anywhere else for a while - I'd be more interested in questions such as:

1/ What kind of place is Botswana? How does that affect your work, what you write about, your working day, etc? Would you be a different writer if you lived somewhere else?

2/ Do you think of yourself as a Botswanan writer, or as a writer who happens to be from - or living in - Botswana?

3/ How has the internet, blogging etc affected your writing life? Has it made you feel more international? Is there much of a Botswanan writer/blogger community?

4/ On the business side, do you market/sell your work internationally, or only in Botswana? Whatever the answer, what's the rationale behind it?


Lauri said...

Oh Neil- fantastic ideas! Thanks so much. I hestiated asking for help with this but I see I shouldn't have. Great ideas.

Neil said...

Glad to be useful!

Vanessa Gebbie said...

I would be fascinated to learn more about the way you work direct with publishers, and the pros and cons of that as a process.

It seems hard to get money out of them sometimes, for example - but Id love to know how it works, when you are as prolific a writer as you, and you have to in effect act as your own unpaid agent, spending time away from creating... keeping track of all agreements, contracts, royalties, foreign rights, whats used in schools, excerpts, complete works, and so on and so forth. As well as soliciting new contracts for new work. It is so different.

Anonymous said...

I'm actually more interested in your creative process and how where you live affects it. Does the landscape inform your work? What about the culture?

I was criticized (heavily) once for writing a short story from an indigenous person's point of view. Although the story was well received (and was published) it was unfathomable to some critics that a white person could understand the black experience. Do you think such stumbling blocks exist for you? Does it affect how you choose your characters?

I hope we can get a transcript of your talk. It's going to be amazing!!!

Lauri said...

Selma, I find that very odd. So does that mean that a black person cannot write about a white person? An Indian can't write about a Nigerian? Almost everyone around me is black, most of my friends are black. Where do I get ideas for stories except from what is around me? No, I'm not black but JK Rowlings, I think, is not a wizard. I think as fiction writers we should do our research but still I think I'm free to write about anything I want.

Thanks for your ideas. Not sure about the transcript thing. I'll see maybe I can use my phone to tape what I say. I'll see.