Writing is easy for a woman? – thoughts for International Women’s Day

Singled out for newsworthy potential  in today’s Telegraph is Aifric Campbell, sadly not, it seems, for the brilliance of her writing in On the Floor, but for switching jobs from City trader to writer. News copy needs a fresh angle and a simple announcement detailing the Orange Prize long list isn’t deemed interesting of itself. The ‘news’ is that Aifric ‘stopped working’ in the City because of the long hours away from her baby and stayed home and wrote books. Now, I know that this is a dumbed down distillation of the story of the novel but it’s also a negation of the creative process; the sheer, monumental effort of writing.

The message is that writing is an easier option than competing on the City trading floors.

Really? Is it only the male writer who writes with such intensity that it leads to physical exhaustion? Is writing a soft option for a woman?

Surely the article should investigate the process of writing and how it compares to City trading. How, for example, did she find time to write and be a full time mother at the same time – isn’t that juggling? What is the difference between working full time away from home and working full time in the home? And wouldn’t we think differently of Aifric if we also knew that, as well as writing full time, she lectured on creative writing, held a PhD?

Aifric received her PhD in Critical and Creative Writing from the University of East Anglia in 2007 where she has also lectured. She’s the recipient of an award from the Arts and Humanities Research Council, a Thayer Fellowship at the University of California at Los Angeles and writing residencies at Yaddo in New York.

Aifric has taught creative writing at UEA, University of Sussex and is now teaching at Imperial College, London.  – from Aifric’s website

Here’s a piece from the same newspaper on the writer Colm Tóibín’s day – a piece that doesn’t include any mention of family, babies, or juggling, but which does make much of his university posts…

ironically, it’s written to coincide with publication of New Ways to Kill Your Mother.

Happy International Women’s Day

Author: Janette Currie

Editor and literary consultant at JC Consultancy. Freelance writer.