Thursday, March 5, 2009

Secret lives

Authors, as a rule these days, don't seem to be expected to maintain any sort of privacy about their lives. (Unless you're earning enough money to buy a moat and a fleet of lawyers, that is.) Writers are encouraged to build a "readership" often even before they publish a book. So they Twitter and have MySpace and Facebook pages and Yahoo groups and blogs and all sorts of things.

And I understand the logic behind it (really, I do) but there are still elements of that kind of constant contact that I am not comfortable with. It's probably partly a personality thing but it's also a priority thing. We all know how easy it is to waste time online, often to the detriment of our work. I once heard agent Wendy Lawton refer to the "Everything-but Writer," the person that knows all the marketing & networking tips and tricks but never actually gets around to writing. It can be a tough balance to achieve.

I mentioned in my last post that we'd read some Beatrix Potter as part of Read Across America Day. And it made me a little curious about her writing and her life in general. So I did a little hunting. (See, time online when I should have been writing.)

What a fascinating woman! Did you know she was a respected mycologist? She was fascinated by fungi, and even had a paper presented at the Linnean Society (by an uncle, mind you, since women were not allowed at that time). She became an expert sheep breeder, specializing in Herdwick sheep. She was also an active conservationist, buying property in the Lake District and later donating it to the National Trust. She kept a journal in a code that wasn't cracked until 20 years after she died. (I suspect because her parents seemed to so actively discouraged her scientific and romantic ambitions.) In short, she was smart, talented, imaginative, independent and remarkably accomplished for a woman of her times.

What did all this lead me to believe?

If Beatrix Potter had a JacketFlap account, I might have asked to become her friend.

All images from the public domain.

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