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Raw Literature: Natural or Explicit

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geoff-le-pardEssay by Geoff Le Pard, a member of the Congress of Rough Writers.

<< ♦ >>

When I was asked by Charli to consider what raw literature meant to me, I did what all lawyers do (and sometimes I can’t not give best to that training, however hard I try); I gravitate to a definition, in this case of ‘raw’.

One settles neatly alongside Charli’s opening where she posits ‘raw’ literature is:

…first-works. It’s the original material a writer produces in response to an idea, challenge or aspiration. It’s the novelist’s first draft; the poet’s scribbling of a sonnet; a screenwriter’s initial storyboard. It’s a memoirist’s recognition of a relevant story to share. It’s that ah-ha moment when the imagination outpaces the fingers across a keyboard or a tongue giving diction. It’s the writer’s eye on the blank page like a sculptor’s gaze through a block of marble

My definition states ‘raw’ is:

being in a natural condition; not processed; not having been subjected to adjustment, treatment or analysis.

But it also gave me this:

exposed (as in a wound); explicit, in realistic detail

Let’s just note here there are other definitions and that may lead to other debates, by other writers.

Looking at definition no 1, we begin to see why the birth analogy is made. Often it is said we ‘give birth’ or ‘life’ to our work. I think that’s what Charli means by ‘raw’ literature.

But that started me thinking; if raw literature is birth, what about conception? What’s that? In the writerly process? And why is it so many people rubbish raw literature, that first draft, in ways you wouldn’t rubbish a new born?

I think, probably stating the obvious here, that the spark Charli references is in fact conception. That initial idea, that’s the act of conception. After there’s a gestation period, usually hidden away from public view, the idea growing inside us, changing, taking on some sort of shape that warrants it being put onto the page or typed into a machine. That period may not be long but there is a period, even for the speediest of flash pieces.

We may share our condition with others but they may not recognise it in the early stages as we blather our way round the idea. But eventually we give birth to something, we have created some sort of first draft, something tangible. It is more than the mere act of scribbling an idea down, a treatment, a few headings. It has to have some sort of independent existence, it must be recognisable by others as a work, a whole, even if not yet particularly coherent. It still needs a lot of support, guidance, nurturing; it’s by no means the finished product.

It is, indeed, raw. But in saying that, let us grasp the most important point from this analogy. A first draft, like a new born, isn’t shite, rubbish, not worth the paper, etc., etc. It’s a perfectly formed yet undeveloped thing that needs care, love and attention, guidance and support. Much like a new born.

You don’t diss a baby for being a baby, do you? You don’t expect it to be what it’s not any more than you tell it it’s rubbish until it grows up. That sort of parenting went out with the golf ball typewriter and spats.  Sure, the first draft is ugly; so are all babies whatever we say of our own, but so? They’ll grow and, with help – editing if you like – they can become splendid.

Raw literature is that. It’s not the idea, the germ, not even the first note or scribble. But it is the first attempt at a coherent whole and worthy of everyone’s support and understanding. When I start anything, any writing I know it will need work. I may not have much time: a flash prompt may give me 24 hours, a blog post may be programmed to go inside a day or two but it will always benefit from finding some space to spend on it.

That is so, even if that editing changes it so fundamentally that none of the original words are used. It would be an unusual piece, after all, that contains nothing of that original idea. The fact that the words used are different or in a different order doesn’t mean the original had no merit. Individually the words are meaningless concepts – it is only when brought together that they take shape as a work – much like cells. But you cannot reach that final shape without the original unrefined lump of prose.

Imagine an opening: He walked slowly past the shops.

Over time you might change that to: The man strolled along the High Street.

Apart from one ‘the’ all the words have changed but the opening stays conceptually the same.

Writing a book is a journey. We’ve all heard that cliché? As with any journey, the beginning isn’t rubbish; it’s just a part of the process. As Charli suggests, starting on creating a novel is like the commencement of a sculpture. Does that make the first few blows rubbish, redundant? Course not.

But if it’s so important, if that raw lump is in fact a crucial part of the process, how careful should you be in its creation, in that first attempt? Not very, would be my judgement. Of course a pregnant mother takes care of herself to take care of the baby, but mostly the body does the job, come what may. So, with that first draft; let it happen. Do not be frightened by what you’re giving birth to. In the way of new births, your power really to influence only comes after birth. So, get it out there. Kick the inhibitions into touch. Let it all hang and just write.

Which neatly brings us to that second definition: exposing yourself, being open, vulnerable. Is it any wonder we have inhibitions if creating something raw opens us to hurt?

When you start a piece of writing, when you let it flow, you must resist the urge to restraint or you might never reach the birthing point from which the whole process can really flow.  If you give in, you’ll slow the process and risk gumming it up before you have something coherent from which to work.

For any work, if we truly want to get that rawness, newness, freshness, we should be prepared for some hurt and not be scared to expose our vulnerabilities. You know it is said you need to be brave if you are going to be true to your ideas. But how brave, how raw, how vulnerable will we really allow ourselves to be? Isn’t there always something that stops up being completely raw? Aren’t there some inhibitions that you simply can’t avoid?

When I wrote my first published work, I set it in 1976, in a rural setting. The characters included a family of displaced Ugandans with Indian ancestry. One of the main characters, the mother finds herself having to give a home to the Ugandans and is unwilling and unpleasant to the visitors. By today’s mores she is clearly racist; at that time her behaviour wouldn’t have received anything like such approbation (that’s not an excuse, just the explanation).

I was advised modern audiences would take against her because of those views, common as I knew them to be back then. I challenged that notion but, being my first book, felt I was losing the battle to moderate the character as more than one beta reader expressed their confusion over how they felt about her. My original writing was raw, uncensored and, in fact honest but so what? I felt then I needed to listen to the critics and accept their advice; if that was the market, I didn’t want to jar with it.

However, had I not written it, initially, as I thought right I wouldn’t have been able to clarify my own thinking and make appropriate calls on what I wanted to achieve with the book, how it might reach its audience.  To me that early draft needed to have the language, ideas and concepts of the time, even if some reading them would be angered, annoyed and shocked. That’s a sort of raw writing.

Now, four published books into my writing life, I might approach the criticism differently.  But equally I am well aware that I don’t really write raw fiction. Not completely. You see, it is not just the attitudes of characters that’s the issue. It is the language they use, too.

These days I populate my novels, as I see appropriate, with the ‘f’ and ‘c’ words. I don’t care and even if beta readers think my characters potty-mouthed (some do, some even count the number of times I use the ‘f’ word), I know that to be real that’s how they would speak and think and I shrug and think it’s the beta reader who needs to get real.

But would I use the ‘n’ word? The ‘p’ word? Me a white male, a child of a former Empire-controlling nation whose dirty boots are all over the globe?  Nope, I can’t imagine I’d have that courage, ever. I might have a white supremacist character, or just a cowardly bigot who pretends to be open minded but isn’t really; even so I’d censor them for my own peace of mind. That is, I think, on one level a shame. I doubt, even for a first draft would I use those words. Sure, it may mean I avoid offending people but really I’m not doing it because it improves my literature but because I don’t want to offend. Or more likely I don’t want to be thought of as offensive. Cowardice, then. So raw literature isn’t always something to be applauded or indeed created.

So given I can change things, as I did with my first book, in the editing process, why don’t I let it out, in all its gory glory with ideas, words, and characters I find offensive? Even at the outset, when the first words hit the page, why not be truly honest, open, raw?

Because I just can’t. Not completely. And I wonder how many of us are capable of that degree of uninhibited writing? Don’t we all have taboos?  Aren’t we all a product of the societies we live in, the cultures we adopt and so we never really let go fully? And maybe, because we have to rub along that’s not a bad thing. But, as I say, I think it is actually quite sad.

There are some who might say I lack ‘honesty’. But those are the self-same people who will tell a hurtful truth, rather than dissemble because they can’t help but be ‘honest’. Rubbish. Since when has undiluted honesty, much like undiluted alcohol, benefited anyone?

So what about you? Do you agree with the birthing/conception analogy? Or is that overdone? Do you think first drafts are indeed rubbish or merely staging posts in the life of a written work? And can you write truly raw, un-self-censored fiction, or memoir, or whatever else it is you write? Is anyone that brave, or foolish, or maybe just crass?

***

Geoff Le Pard started writing to entertain in 2006. He hasn’t left his keyboard since. When he’s not churning out novels he writes some maudlin self-indulgent poetry and blogs at geofflepard.com. He walks the dog for mutual inspiration and most of his best ideas come out of these strolls. He also cooks with passion if not precision.

My Father and Other Liars is a thriller set in the near future and takes its heroes, Maurice and Lori-Ann on a helter-skelter chase across continents.

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Dead Flies and Sherry Trifle is a coming of age story. Set in 1976 the hero Harry Spittle is home from university for the holidays. He has three goals: to keep away from his family, earn money and hopefully have sex. Inevitably his summer turns out to be very different to that anticipated.

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life-in-a-grain-of-sand-by-g-le-pardThis 30 story anthology covers many genres: fantasy, romance, humour, thriller, espionage, conspiracy theories, MG and indeed something for everyone. All the stories were written during Nano 2015.

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salisbury-square-by-g-le-pardSalisbury Square is a dark thriller set in present day London where a homeless woman and a Polish man, escaping the police at home, form an unlikely alliance to save themselves.

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<< ♦ >>

Raw Literature is an ongoing conversation about those first works we create as writers, as literary artists. Guest Authors share personal insights on their craft, its process, the experience of creating raw literature and what they do with it. Carrot Ranch is a dynamic literary community that creates raw literature weekly in the form of flash fiction (99 word stories). If you have an essay idea, pitch to Charli Mills, Lead Buckaroo, at wordsforpeople@gmail.com.


42 Comments

  1. Annecdotist says:

    Fabulous post, Geoff, which shows the benefits of your lawyerly background. I’ve used the baby-child analogy a lot in writing about my fiction, although rejected it initially because it’s such a cliche – yet, like many cliches, it’s been overused because it’s so useful. But I like how you’ve extended to include conception and gestation.
    I think it’s good that you know something about what inhibits your writing. Our behaviour also is influenced by unconscious processes, so it’s a step forward to bring them to the light, even if it doesn’t alter what you do. And, as you say, some of those inhibitions might be the right way to go. But I think we get better at shedding them, if that’s what we want, with practice putting our work out there, whether it’s in raw or processed form.
    If you do, as a white male, want to use the N word, have a look at Chris Cleave, whose latest novel set in the Second World War features a black child and his family in London – and he has some stuff on his website about using that language.

    Liked by 4 people

    • TanGental says:

      Thank you Anne and I will look at Cleave . I want to write a story around my grandparents and parents experiences in the first half of the last century and language is a challenge. And yes, it becomes easier the longer I write to induce some bravery. Funnily enough I caught the end of the Dambusters film on TV over Christmas. The hero Guy Gibson has a black lab he called N… factually accurate, not an issue when the film was made in the 1950s but boy did it jar when he calls his dog after the trauma of his bombing run. I doubt many in the audience back then would have noticed.

      Liked by 4 people

      • Annecdotist says:

        Ouch! It doesn’t quite have the status of the N-word, but I did put some pretty un-PC opinions into the mouths of some of the characters in Sugar and Snails, including the narrator, of which at least one reviewer was quite critical.

        Liked by 4 people

    • Charli Mills says:

      I, too, appreciate Geoff’s law background which showed in his questioning process. Pity the literary artist on the stand under a line of questioning! But that’s exactly the intent here, to question and challenge what we think, to become more aware of our creative process. I’ll also check out Cleave’s website, interested to see what he has to say.

      Liked by 4 people

  2. TanGental says:

    Thank you for hosting Charli. It will be an interesting series.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. A. E. Robson says:

    Excellent, as always, Geoff. The era of ‘political correctness’ has, in my opinion, changed how writers pen their work. Which is too bad. The first draft should sting with every thought imaginable. These thoughts don’t necessarily have a place in the final, refined draft, but it is what breathes life into the story.

    Liked by 3 people

    • TanGental says:

      I do feel rather feeble when I self censor from the outset but it is a fight I doubt I will now win.

      Liked by 4 people

    • Charli Mills says:

      I really like that idea, Ann, that the first draft “should sting with every thought imaginable.”

      Liked by 4 people

      • Charli Mills says:

        Geoff, do you think the self censorship is the result of serving as a lawyer, always examining every thought? Just curious. It’s an interesting thought that our professions can shape our writer’s voice.

        Liked by 2 people

      • TanGental says:

        I don’t know what matrix of factors leads me that way; partly personality – I have always wanted to please, to gain plaudits that way so I would naturally shy away from things that might cause a lot of upset; I don’t relish confrontation even though I’m hugely competitive – these traits i could lay in my family background. I think that counts for more than some form of ethical component or worry about crossing some sort of line which might be seen lawyerly traits. I’m just a complex mix, like most people…

        Liked by 4 people

      • Charli Mills says:

        True! Aren’t we all a complex mix. Writers are always examining the mixes.

        Liked by 3 people

  4. Nail on the Head 🙂

    Liked by 4 people

  5. julespaige says:

    Geoff,

    I agree with the birthing/conception analogy of writing. But especially with short form poetry, there really isn’t much editing to do. I send my ‘pieces/children’ into the world (most recently by blogging) and they have to fend for themselves. I’ve tried sending my stuff to a few places for publishing (over the years), but I don’t like the editing that these places assume they can make. Changes the whole context of my meaning. Just because a verse doesn’t fit their expectations. And after almost fifty years of writing, verse, (more recently flash) fiction or memoir – If I make one person happy with a single piece (other than myself) I’m a happy camper.

    For a book it may be different. Especially if you find a factoid or made up factoid that you want to alter. Or you’ve accidentally change the eye color of your major character. So maybe you might need someone to review your work. Though that is never a guarantee is it?

    Oh, heck yeah, I am crass (a rebel in my own right), brave and foolish for thinking that my ‘talent’ might be worth something. So far though I just live off comments, commiseration and maybe some compliments.

    Maybe I do some censoring? I’m not one to demote or demolish anyone else. And sometimes harsh language can just simply be foul. So Geoff, I hope I answered your questions. Hey we cook the same way!

    Continued success! ~Jules

    Liked by 3 people

    • TanGental says:

      thank you Jules for reading and commenting; yes, I’m with you on the editing process, especially if driven by others; I do edit most things, though some only superficially and I really don’t want to be ‘told’ to change anything though I love people to make suggestions where things are wrong, especially if something doesn’t work for them. I think it was Neil Gaiman who opined that you should always listen to where critics point out a problem but never when they proffer a solution; wise words for me at least.

      Liked by 3 people

      • julespaige says:

        I like that bit by Neil Gaiman – reminds me of a quote from Kudahandwisdom…:
        “How beautiful it is to stay silent when someone expects you to be enraged.”

        While not all changes to documentation would be ‘enraging’ it can be disappointing when the point you do want to get across gets twisted to garble.

        I don’t mind suggestions. But when told to just eliminate something or rearrange it because of the critics personal preference…that I do not like.

        I once submitted items to a magazine that suggested I go through their paid editing process first. I stopped submitting to that publication. Because it seems to me they were only trying to make money and weren’t going to publish anything that hadn’t gone through their payment process first. Though they claimed you could submit three pieces without charge. They also started a contest that offered a pittance prize while expecting contributors to pay a per piece fee just to be looked at without any guarantee of publication (of non winning pieces). Not how I wanted to make my first official recognition of being a paid author. Since I recognized we weren’t on the same ‘page’ I even stopped my subscription to the publication.

        Liked by 3 people

      • TanGental says:

        it’s very irritating to be treated as gullible when what they are doing is obvious yet knowing will be people desperate to believe this might work for them.

        Liked by 3 people

      • julespaige says:

        Kind of like vanity publishers…almost fell for them (different group) twice. They really changed a piece around – when I said I wasn’t buying what they were selling until I saw it in the store (one piece out of hundreds of different authors…) They also wanted to sell me a plaque of my poem that they had destroyed (formatting wise) and a CD with someone else reading my piece as well as 9 strangers pieces. All to which I said ‘No thanks’ and then was informed that they ‘cut’ my piece.

        It is a different world with blogging and self publishing. Blogging I sort of have a handle on – the self publishing not so much. 🙂

        Liked by 3 people

      • TanGental says:

        don’t give up on self pub; I’ve done four books now, one an anthology and three novels and it’s been okay; fiddly for sure but okay to do and i like the finished product. I did invest in an editor to strip out the typos and other nonsense and someone to do me a cover, money i doubt i’ll recoup in the sales but hey if that’s vanity so be it!

        Liked by 3 people

      • julespaige says:

        There was a gal here a while back…that for about $1,000 or so basically created her own publishing house – but with restrictions like she could only publish her stuff, not for anyone else. Though I don’t know all the details. Her book was an honorarium to a lost love. Something she had to do.

        Writing is all vanity isn’t it. 🙂
        If I had a support group close… But at the moment my net friends are what I do have in regards to writing. And they are the ‘Bees Knees!’

        Liked by 3 people

  6. Norah says:

    Great post, Geoff and Charli. I’m enjoying this series, learning more about the writing process and approach of others. The birthing analogy has always worked well for me. As for language, I think it needs to be appropriate to the character, the situation and the times. We adjust the language we use according to the social situation we find ourselves in – the language we use with our mates in the pub may be different from that we use with our employer; for example. I think dialogue should portray character and make the character realistic. An offensive character may use offensive language, that may be avoided by others of a different nature. I would struggle to have characters I created speak offensively as I avoid use those words myself. I’ve always considered them to indicate a small vocabulary and lack of imagination; and they are not really appropriate for an early childhood teacher! 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

    • TanGental says:

      that language question is tricky and since I write for adults is one I will always struggle with I suspect. The first time I wrote the ‘c’ word down in my fiction i thought of my father and his reaction – oddly my mother would have understood and encouraged the honesty and accuracy while in life she would abhor its use; my father, on the other hand, would have been appalled to read it from his son but probably dismissed it amongst his rugby playing friends of his younger days.

      Liked by 3 people

  7. Sherri says:

    Great essay Geoff, and great comments here too. I’m going to jump straight to the vulnerability part and self-censorship. This is something I don’t read too much about, so it’s really great to read the excellent points you raise here, especially using your experience with your first book and the issue of percieved racism from your main character. I’ve found this very thought-provoking because I’ve struggled with this same issue. Again, I’ll be blurring the lines between memoir and fiction, but in both cases, I think letting it all out in that first, raw, uncensored first draft is vital. It’s the honest, bare, real truth. It has to be, otherwise it isn’t honest. The challenge is what we decided to keep or discard, and whether we are happy with our final draft, regardless of outside critism.
    My memoir takes place between 1978 -1981 primarilly and part of my story surrounding my first time in California which of course meant remembering the way we (as in Brits and Americans) spoke then, the expressions we used, the how different things were in the world then. Geeze…hope this doesn’t make me sound old!!!!!
    When I blurted out the first draft, I let rip with some of the conversations we had, how, sad to say, there were some racist and homphobic comments made, my eyes being opened very wide to a life very different to growing up in rural Suffolk as opposed to the mean streets of Los Angeles. I have to bring it in because there is an incident involving a gang (no gangs in rural Suffolk!!!), but after reading the dialogue, I thought,no way can I put that in, the world is very different now, people would be mortally offended. But….it was the way it was and I’m writing memoir, so I can’t change it because the diluted version would be ridiculous…and not true! Reflecting on the past has to be truthful in memoir…and it is the same in fiction, surely, if you’re writing from a specific era and the kind of story you’re writing calls for it? But…I can see the dilemma, the conflicted viewpoints and I am still wondering how I will deal with those sticky parts of my story. You’ve given me much food for thought Geoff…

    Liked by 1 person

    • TanGental says:

      Thanks so much for joining in Sherri. I’m still unsure I was right to change; after it it was the era of TV such as Love Thy Neighbour and Alf Garnett. As for homophobia, that too was endemic where i lived but how the world changed in 20 years. I know the language I used then, the casually ignorant ways that at best were banter (but then look at Trump – no excuse) but really were ingrained attitudes that no one challenged, no one around me knew to challenge them. Oh dear, and what are we still doing today? I listened to a fascinating Woman’s Hour yesterday on transphobic language: when discussing childbirth do you say ‘a woman is having a baby’ or ‘ a person is having a baby’ because the former is transphobic? I struggle with this and as one speaker says the line between sex and gender is the new phobic trench to cross. Golly, where do we go, if we can’t continue with the basic divide of man and woman in language?

      Liked by 1 person

      • Sherri says:

        Arrrgh…I know, I know!!! And yes, it was banter back then, seemingly harmless. Having said that, the only guys who would have talked like Trump even back in the so much to answer for 70s (and let’s not mention league of his own you know who with the cigar and shell suits who did his own grabbing live on TV…) were utter jerks to be avoided like the plague. Can you imagine the outcry if those TV programmes were shown today? As for the ‘phobic trench’ between the genders, I don’t know what to say…my head is spinning with it all. I’ll have to get back to you on that one…

        Liked by 1 person

  8. lucciagray says:

    Interesting reflections on the process of lterary creation. I wouldn’t burden anyone with any of my ‘raw’ work, if raw means uncensored and unedited. I wouldn’t share any piece of writing until I was sure it was in an acceptable form, although it might not be a final draft. I sometimes write a Stream of Consciousness post on Saturdays #SOCS and it’s one of the hardest things for me to do, not to censor myself. I do it mainly to push myself out of my comfort zone.
    As a reader, I’d prefer to read polished versions instead of ‘raw’ drafts, although I have beta read for others, but I received almost final versions.
    I read and correct plenty of ‘raw essays’ from my students, and I really think they could make a bit of an effort and polish it before handing them in! That said, I always give them a second chance to redo it taking my suggestions / corrections into account. The final drafts are always much more gratifying 🙂
    I get the impression you are talking about raw linguistic aspects. I suggest another interpretation of raw as ‘brutally honest and without any frills or concession to people’s sensibilities.’ Raw feelings and events. For example there are passages in The Winter of the World, where brutal murders and gang rapes, for example, are depicted during WWII. It was hard to read. I even cried and had to stop reading and do something else to take my mind off it at times, but I’m glad I read it in spite of the sadness and anger I felt as a result. I’d say that was raw writing, although it was very polished indeed.
    What about the portrayal of raw emotions and events? Should we consider the readers’ sensibilities?

    Liked by 1 person

    • TanGental says:

      Thanks Luccia for replying. I wouldn’t wish my rawest work on anyone; it is far too embarrassing. But the fact that is so unpolished is a function of its newness not the intrinsic quality of having something new, don’t you think? There is a difference, necessarily between someone offering you work as if it were polished when clearly it isn’t and someone who doesn’t know how to polish it and needs help. My point was that we should knock or mock the first efforts because of their rawness but see them for what they are; necessary first steps.
      The other rawness, the ‘offensive’ possibilities in writing is difficult. I’ve sort of concluded that we should try and ignore readers sensitivities so long as the reasons are sound for the story we are telling; so if we want to give voice to racist language, violence against the vulnerable etc then we should do so. But we need to accept that sometimes we simply cannot write something because of our own internal censor; that is a shame because it removes a depth, indeed an honesty from our writing but we have to be true to ourselves; to live with ourselves. Not an easy position for sure

      Liked by 1 person

      • lucciagray says:

        I agree it’s an ongoing process, the more I / we write the more we learn about writing and those first raw drafts are part of the process. I also agree that we need to ignore readers’ sensitivities, because we can’t please everyone. I know I annoy some people, and that worries me, but I’m learning to cope with that. I agree, we have to be true to ourselves first and foremost, after all, no one is forced to read what we write, it’s optional.

        Liked by 1 person

  9. […] as State Representative of Missouri’s 91st District. We’ve contemplated writing that is Natural or Explicit, as well as recognizing when Raw is Ready. We’ve considered Jewels on the Page, Safe Spaces […]

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  10. […] Le Pard jumped into the conversation with a lawyer’s regard for definitions. In Natural or Explicit, he explores the meaning of raw and goes beyond definitions to what it means to feel exposed, […]

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  11. Great post Geoff. Love the birth analogy. I agree that few can write raw in the other sense although there are some that do. Personally I don’t applaud this as I think we should not set out to shock and upset. This is a huge ethical subject in memoir because when you write your own story you usually also tell another’s biography and there are some things that should not be written, things I consider to be private and belong in a diary, not a published work.

    Liked by 1 person

    • TanGental says:

      I agree completely with the last bit. Writing about my now dead parents feels fine but then my bro comes in and I have to think about how I portray him. And then my own tribe and on…

      Liked by 2 people

    • Charli Mills says:

      Thanks for sharing that insight from memoir writing, Irene. Shock and awe gets old and doesn’t sustain attention. We need to have something meaningful to pull out of those raw works and I believe it takes processing that isn’t always​ public.

      Liked by 2 people

      • Absolutely, not everything is public. Elizabeth Gilbert (Eat, Pray, Love) said that if you wanted to get a sense of her – read her fiction. This was because in her memoirs were pruned to such an extent (not telling lies but deciding what was and was not necessary for the story) that she was somewhat bleached. Writing fiction, she realised after publication, she had not been as careful to protect herself and others that she fictionalised. I think often writers forget that they have an ethical duty to themselves as well as others. A huge topic.

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New From C. Jai Ferry

Skeleton Dance, C. Jai Ferry, @CJaiFerry

New from Anne Goodwin!

New from Ruchira Khanna!

Breathing Two Worlds, Ruchira Khanna, @abracabadra01

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Hinting at Shadows, Sarah Brentyn, @SarahBrentyn

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From Ann Edall-Robson

Moon Rising, Ann Edall-Robson, @AnnEdall-Robson

New from Sacha Black!

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From Susan Zutautas

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