I heard a statistic the other day that really surprised me and not in a good way. It was on the Radio, during the bulletin explaining that Ali Smith had won the Bailey’s Prize for How to be Both. A literary prize for women. I may have mis-remembered the exact figure but it’s the principle that mattered to me more than anything. Basically there is a significant imbalance gong on.
We still need a prize solely for women it seems. Women author’s made up over half of books published in 1996 when the Bailey’s (then Orange) Prize was launched. Yet were, and still are, hugely under-represented in both literary prizes and book reviews.
I belong to a fab group of writers in an FB group. We’re all women. Many of us share parenting children of similar ages. We come from different backgrounds and experiences, but we all write. Women make up 51% of the general population. We have a voice and it still doesn’t appear to be heard on an equal footing.
I’d be interested to find out the percentages of those utilising the self publishing route who are women. I suspect it could be quite high. For all the cynics, for all the doubters, self publishing seems to provide women with an opportunity to circumvent the traditional stumbling blocks. And blogging is also helping these same female author’s reach an audience.
I write as me. I want to see and read about real women, real girls. Not extremes. Just real. Ironically I’m in the process of editing a second draft of my middle grade manuscript all about a land full of mystery, magic and definitely nothing like a ‘real’ world. But I want my two lead characters to be just that. Real. Not female lead’s, simply lead characters who happen to be female. I’m writing a book that I want my daughter to read and see that girls can be and do whatever they wish, just as I’d like my son to understand this too when he’s old enough to read for himself. In short, I am writing fiction for children. I also happen to be a woman.
I’m enjoying giving my two female characters a bit more description and back story-I think they will be two girls that reader’s will want to identify with and follow their adventures. I’m looking forward to sharing their story one day, whether traditionally published or self published, who knows…..