Archive for the ‘Chapters’ Category

Thatch sent through some interesting reading as he regularly does. The article this time was titled “An End of Books” by Seth Godin. It’s not a very long article but for those of us who care about the demise of the printed book and bookshops and the publishing industry, it’s worth reading and reflecting on. In it’s substance I found echoes of my own experiences and thoughts. His observations are a burr to get the thought muscles churning.

The article is not a doom-sayers message but rather a prod to consider the future. From the point of view of someone who has worked in libraries of one sort or another for the greatest part of my working career and who has recently entered the world of publishing; nothing that Seth Godin had to say was news to me.

I still read the article with sadness and I think I heard the sadness that Seth Godin too feels for the passing of books and all that the passing encompasses. What he did say that gave me pause was, “I fear that our cultural and corporate connections to books as a delivery system may blind us to the alternatives.

Without Amazon and CreateSpace and services like those – the Print on Demand book Citizen Jane: Transformative Citizenship in a Globalized World by Jane Sloane would never have seen the light of day. It’s a very worthy book, but the market it is directed at, is niche. I doubt there would have been even one corporate publisher who would have taken it on. It is also the author’s first book. So instead of hawking the book to countless publishers we set about to do it ourselves.

What the new technology has done for this author and this book is allow us to crowd source much of the funding for the manuscript production through Kickstarter and then use CreateSpace to print and deliver, within a matter of days, one or more copies of the finished book to purchasers anywhere in the world. To use social media and a blog to engage with the author’s audience. That’s empowering. Oh, and electronic versions of the book will be available shortly.

What it hasn’t done though is provide the merchandising and publicity support that was the business of the publishers. For independent authors/self publishers this can cause further problems because booksellers are used to dealing with publishers not directly with authors. It brings up all sorts of issues including payments, margins, returns and so on. How do you respond to a bookshop who don’t know how to deal with you because you are an author and not a “real” publisher? If you are happy to simply publish your POD book and let Amazon do the rest then you likely won’t sell too many copies.

It’s a massive learning curve, but I see opportunity here.

Seth Godin is so right when he says that we have to reinvent the business model. While I will personally always prefer a real book – electronic versions aren’t real books in my world; they are an unsatisfactory alternative, but an alternative that we will all probably have to come to terms with sooner or later.

I’ve also seen instances of the decline of ecosystem that he talks about at the University library where I used to work for twenty years. The library had ceased to be a quite place to study and read. In an effort to stay relevant it was filled instead by the noisy chatter of groups sprawled around bays of computer terminals where previously bookshelves had stood. The library extended opening hours, even proposing a coffee shop inside the library. By the time I left, book budgets had been repeatedly slashed in order to pay the staggering sums needed to purchase electronic resources.

I spent much of my time in the last couple of years at the library withdrawing and discarding thousands of volumes from our collections to bring the library in line with the new policy of a library without books. That was the glorious future that our chief librarian had brought back to us after her sojourns to Academic libraries in the States and elsewhere. Nor were we alone in this endeavour, it was an idea that spread like contagion through some of the more poorly funded Australian Academic libraries in an effort to offset the rising costs of electronic resources.

I rescued a small number of those reject books and journals before they were pulped and these are now part of our own home collection packed in boxes added to the other thousands of books in boxes stacked in our spare room. I miss the floor to ceiling bookshelved walls we built into our old house–one day I’d like a home where my books can all be on display again.

Nothing that Seth Godin said was new or incendiary; just what is. Like it or not, the world is changing and books and book publishing with it. Books will possibly again become something that only the affluent or the eccentric will want or be able to afford – somebody (I can’t remember who) postulated that very idea a while back.

As far as I’m concerned the positive thing is that people are reading–whether it’s words consumed on an electronic device or savoured on a paper page is a matter of preference and convenience. Long live the printed book.

“I support affirmative action, I support positive role models, I support great female lead roles on TV and film and in books but I disagree with the writer of this New York Times opinion piece. For starters, I certainly was not disappointed with the choice of Capaldi for the lead role of Doctor Who. The assertion of the writer that all Whovian fandom was waiting for a female Doctor is patent nonsense and expresses nothing more than the writers personal bias.

In fact, Stephen Moffatt, the current head writer of the series was reported by the HuffPost as saying: “I didn’t feel enough people wanted it,” he said, according to The Telegraph. “Oddly enough, most people who said they were dead against it — and I know I’ll get into trouble for saying this — were women, saying, ‘No, no, don’t make him a woman.'”

As a passionate Doctor Who fan for most of my life, as a woman and as a proud Feminist, I am dead set against changing the gender of the Doctor. More so if it’s to appease those politicking for diversity or to overturn gender roles. The writer does not posit a single argument illustrating why such a change is needed or even desirable. Instead the writer argues that it is an opportunity to push politically motivated agendas–give me a break. That’s as laughable as suggesting that Santa, or Pooh Bear or Batman or any of the millions of other fictional male lead characters be re-cast as women or with some other diverse trait just because it could be used to further a social or cultural cause.

If the issue is so damned important and I have to argue that it is, then the right thing to do is to help, to encourage, to create and to develop strong fictional characters and roles in their own right; characters who display and celebrate diversity. Stop encouraging the lazy bastardisation of existing characters and most of all; keep your politically motivated mitts off Doctor Who.”


I wrote the preceding post after Thatch sent me the article which can be found at the following link:

He knew that I had already publicly expressed my dismay at the thought of a female Doctor Who, so guessed I might be interested in the article. Indeed I was, but by the time I had read it, the comments section on the post had closed and my indignant response was doomed to silence; instead I turned to Facebook initially and now here to my blog.

Thatch and fake Tardis - Glasgow.

Thatch and fake Tardis – Glasgow.

With the announcement of the 12th Doctor Who being anticipated by many fans of the long running series, it was only fair that speculation as to the identity of the next actor to play the Time Lord was rife. Along with the speculation about which male actor would pluck that plum role, there were a few voices agitating that a woman, or at the very least a member of a minority group be cast in the role.

What was the reason for this vocal opposition to the casting of yet another Anglo male, do you suppose? Could it be that the reason was that it would advance the Doctor Who mythology and canon? No, that wasn’t it. Was the reason perhaps that it would enhance the characterisation of the Doctor? No, not that either. Was the reason because it could better explain the fictional universe that Doctor Who and companions inhabit? No, no way. Was it perhaps that anybody other than an Anglo male could do a better job in the role? Again. No, not the reason stated, though a possibility.

Each of these, individually and collectively are acceptable and plausible grounds for considering a change, indeed each successive actor reinterprets the role. Instead most of these vocal agitators merely view it as a chance to break “the glass ceiling” or as a missed opportunity to feature a member of a minority to fulfil a legal public sector equality requirement.

Then I read the following article:
Doctor Who can change the world with a sidekick and a satsuma. Why can’t he become a she?

“Why is it so hard to conceive of a female Doctor, or a black Doctor? For the same reason that it is hard to conceive of a female president or a black Prime Minister, or any world government or economic power not largely controlled by rich white men: because we cannot imagine it. Because we refuse to imagine it. Because the stories we tell ourselves and each other about power and history don’t often include women and non-white people in leading roles. “[Laurie Penny]

I read these words with suspicion. I experience no difficulty imagining a female Doctor–I can even imagine myself in the role-neither am I afraid of change; I just don’t want to watch a female Doctor Who on the telly. I’ve even speculated on a different ethnicity for the doctor – but reasoned, for goodness sake that he (yes he) is a non-human humanoid, an alien of an all but extinct species – why would he regenerate into a black or a Chinese or an Italian unless there were analogues on his now defunct home world.

And if he did regenerate into an Indian, let’s say–he might wear the outward characteristics, but as an alien the similarities would only be skin deep as he would be unfamiliar with and would not have access to the cultural or ethnic baggage associated with this ethnicity. The Laurie Penny comparison is not valid. Real life versus fiction; not the same thing at all.

You may well ask, why I have chosen this insignificant issue on which to take a stand? Truthfully? I’m fed up with Political Correctness and the extremes that it is increasingly being stretched to-because it diminishes diversity, homogenises creativity, stifles self expression and here’s the biggie, obscures the real issues.

So what has Political Correctness done in this situation? I’ll tell you. There have been well meaning and a scattering of patronising people bang on about how important it would be to have, for example, a female Doctor Who, (a fictional character in a family show) crash through the “glass ceiling” to raise the spirits of women – yeah seriously? I’ll tell you what will raise our spirits – how about an end to violence against women, an end to poverty, an end to inequality and child exploitation or how about a positive move to real power in female hands? Political Correctness says: “Don’t worry about the big picture – concentrate on the small shit and the rest can be overlooked and if anybody should notice – you can point to me and show that you care.” I am being cynical I know–but the debate in the NYT article and others on the subject – is farcical.

This narrowness of vision is indicative of why we haven’t tackled the big issues. It promotes the kind of thinking that leads by illustration rather than example, lest it offend. It’s indicative of the kind of thinking that places too much importance on seeing ourselves reflected back from the screen or page rather than from real life. It’s the kind of vision that doesn’t want to leave anything to the imagination or give credit to people who achieve despite obstacles – oh look, that would be all of us–women and men, marvellous multihued multitudes – not all Noble Laureate material, but survivors and achievers all the same.

Yep, I’m for empowering women and other minorities, for assisting the transition, for promoting realistic representation in the arts, for stomping on the bigots, for imagining a better world and trying to do something about it – but for goodness sake, let’s get some perspective and focus on the real issues and stop hiding behind Political Correctness in the guise of equality and diversity.

Oh and while we’re at it – hands off Doctor Who.

Here is my latest work. It started life as a sketch of my husband Thatch while he was reading. I then painted it in Illustrator, using a Wacom tablet. I completed the painting over two days. I am very pleased with it – although I still have a lot more to learn about this amazing program.

Thatch drawn then coloured in Photoshop illustrator

Thatch drawn then coloured in Photoshop illustrator

Illustrator has always intimidated me – but it can do so much more than I ever imagined. Thanks to all the people out there on the net whose tutorials I devoured and in turn learned many of the techniques that I used and some that I made up in the course of experimentation.

It has been too long since my last post so I thought it was time to pick up my tools and begin again with a brand new theme.

Lots of things have happened in the last 12 months, the best thing is that I am now freelancing as a designer for both web and print. This is week two and I feel as though I’m on holiday. I expect that will change as I get used to the new routine.

I’m still reorganising, sorting and weeding – clearly I have a ways to go but my expectation is that my pontifications will be regular again – or perhaps that should read – at last.

Finally this afternoon, I have selected a pastel that I did of a blue vase. The vase itself was not as wonky as mine turned out.

Blue vase - pastel

Blue vase – pastel

Let me know what you think of the new theme.

With the deadline for my end of semester looming, I’ve been working on a poster that I’m trying to illustrate. I hadn’t intended it but this drawing of my former cat Molly will be a part of the final work.

Molly in pencil

Molly in pencil

You were probably expecting the interview with Doreen Backway and I do apologise that I haven’t posted it yet, but I will. Meanwhile indulge me because I happen to like the picture. It is based on a photograph that I took of her a couple of years ago.

If anyone is interested, it is being done with mechanical pencil on cartridge.

Logging off, Jools

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