An Abdication of Responsibility 

I wrote a story last week and sent it to my editor, knowing she’s going to have mixed feelings, and prefaced with the following:

“The story follows Nye over a series of years where she grows angrier and angrier with the injustice, and the inability of anyone to put an end to what she believes to be a wholly unfair act. When she can no longer sit idle to the power structure her people enable, she resists the status quo and decides to put an end to this inured custom.”

That’s how it works – I write a story (usually about 1200 words, completely over written and far too long), and then I have to send a synopsis along to editors with the hope they want to read further. I’ve been told that most publishing houses receive 3-5 submissions per day, and print only 4-6 per year… so you can do the math – I rely on the synopsis to make a splash.

Only this time I wonder if I went too far. Is there an appetite in the market for a homage to Naomi Klein’s work and continued call to rethink the power structures we live within? (Nye’s story was inspired by her last two books) I think there damn well should be if there isn’t… In my utopia there exists a section of radical children’s books compiled under categories like; resistance, transformative change, feminism & uncomfortable histories … 

But sometimes the publishing market knows what you don’t, and has to remind you that you live in a very progressive city compared to the rest of the market (namely most of the US), and they are in the business of selling books, not book-splaining 3rd-wave feminism to 5-8 year olds.

And I waiver. I send Carina my stories in emails labelled “TOP SECRET” and then we have long conversations about feminism and culture and opportunities for women and raising children in Vancouver… And following your dream even when it means your bank account is neglected in the process. Is my dream an abdication of responsibility? Or is writing books that anthropomorphize more along those lines?

Long story short (my tendency to overwrite), I hope this new degree in Creative Writing at UBC brings me the clarity I need to carve out a career in this industry – How much of your heart and beliefs do you put into a story when you’re just starting out and don’t have a following yet? Is this a forum for inspiring change? Should it be? How could it not be, it’s 2017!

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If you’re around Vancouver on September 24th (a Sunday) at 3:35pm and want to hear me read my latest book, Milo and Georgie, at Word Vancouver, please come out! Support a local author (me), and bring your kids/parents/grandparents too. If you are compelled, we could even finish this (until now) one-sided conversation.

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1 Comment

  • Reply
    Stephanie
    August 23, 2017 at 1:00 pm

    Yes there is a market for such writing dearest Bree and you damn well should continue with all your heart and passion! There’s an art to writing about these issues in a way that makes them both entertaining, accessible and meaningful – just look at Dr Seuss! Those stories stick because they are a joy to read AND deal with enduring important topics – and feminism can certainly not rest on its laurels given the continued open attacks on women’s (and everyone else’s) rights these days (that recent Google employee memo – yeesh?!). If we want our boys and girls to grow up and change/save the world they need to appreciate the value of diversity and of everyone’s contributions right? I personally feel like any artist with progressive views has more of an obligation than ever to craft thoughtful stories, messages and work around these issues. You are a culture producer and I can’t wait to see what you do next! On y va!

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