(I wrote a book).
Hello! So, over the past few months, I have been working on a small secret project and now I can tell you all about it. Essentially, I got increasingly grumpy and decided to do something about it. Grumpiness is a very good motivational factor! My grumpiness centred about the increasing realisation that the women writers I collected and loved were so often erased from literary histories. Much of this I think comes from out conceptualisation of literary history itself and how it is so driven by patriarchal concerns and the like. You hear a lot about people like Charles Dickens, right, but you very rarely hear about people like Angela Brazil who basically defined the term popular bestseller. E Nesbit only just got the really decent biography she deserves (here’s an affiliate link to the one I mean – it’s really a very good book and I do recommend it). Bessie Marchant was the GA Henty of her day, but there’s like three articles on her in the entirety of Google Scholar and a ton of him. And The Chalet School In Exile is begging for a Netflix adaptation, but I’ll bet you good money that nobody there has ever heard of it.
So! What to do in such circumstances?
You set up a micropublisher, call it Hot Pot Press, and teach yourself how to publish and publish these stories. You teach yourself how to do it (this is no vanity press btw) and you undertake projects for friends and family until you figure it all out.
And when you do, you launch herstory, which is a range of formerly out of print and forgotten children’s classics by female authors – the first of which is Miss Wilmer’s Gang by Bessie Marchant – and you give them a new introduction and a further reading list and all of the added content you can stuff into them on the tiniest and most non-existent of budgets.
You tell people that this is about rewriting wrongs, about bringing these women back into the critical picture, about making them part of the literary world once more. You adopt the mantra that publishing is a feminist act. You realise that this is your academic attitudes made flesh, that research is nothing unless you bring people and stories with you.
You set up options for people to support your publisher by micro-donations or simply following it on Twitter as the world is a lot to handle right now and support is welcome in all and any forms, and when you’ve done all that, that’s when you draft a post all about it on your blog.
And then you press publish.
Hello! I’ve been thinking about this for a while and circumstances (more of which in later posts) have helped me come to a bit of a decision. Things are going to be changing a little bit at Did You Ever Stop To Think and I wanted you to know the rationale behind that. The first thing to say is that I am not quitting. I love this blog! I love writing it and I love talking to you. I have met many of the people I have come to know online and you are all great. This is a good corner of the internet full of good people, and I like that it exists.
What will be changing is this: Did You Ever Stop To Think will no longer be covering just children’s books. You might have noticed a few new titles sneak into the reviews over the last few weeks and they have been tests, of a sort, to see how I can figure it out. To see how they fit. To see what I want the next version of this blog to be.
I started writing this blog a fair few years ago now, and it’s right that every now and then I consider who and what I want it to be. I have evolved since I began and so have you and so has the world and so has literature. I’ve been wondering how to best capture that – and how to best capture the things that are saying increasingly important and relevant things.
There are also some other things happening for me personally which I shall share with you when I can – exciting things! – but they are not necessarily things which fall under the neat umbrella of children’s books. But they are things that I think will interest you and I’d like to share them with you when I can.
And so because of all of that this blog is going to broaden. Children’s literature – good, brilliant, brave and bold children’s books – will continue to form a key part of what I talk about here. I will never let that go. But alongside that, I’ll also be writing about literary fiction, feminist texts, educational classics (my entire PhD realigned after reading The Tidy House by Carolyn Steedman for example), comics from small and indie presses, books about being a woman, books about being a girl, books about writing, theoretical classics, people doing exciting research and anything else that falls into these categories.
There are so many literary things that I’m interested in and want to talk to you about. I hope you’ll come along with me for the ride. x
[Update 2nd July: The group is now at maximum – so I won’t be accepting any more applications for now. I’ll leave this post up however and update it should things change. Thanks for your interest :)]
Hello! This is a very quick and quiet post to say that I am thinking of setting up a book club for adults who read children’s books. The very vague idea would be to read a book a month and talk about it somewhere nice in York. I know that childcare’s often problematic for people so I have no problems whatsoever with pushchairs and sproglets coming along as well. If you, or anybody you know would be interested, let me know! You can comment here or get in touch via the form here.
A quick link round up …
I recently read a proof copy of Goldy Moldavsky’s ‘Kill The Boy Band’. I’m not going to be reviewing it as I’m not sure that there’s anything constructive that I can add to the discussion (and please don’t think of that as a detrimental comment; this is a complex, challenging book with wildly brilliant moments). But in lieu of such a review, I will signpost this piece Kill the Fatphobia: Fat Girls in YA for it is a searing, painful piece of writing and the issues it raises are valid, glass-sharp things.
This piece on autism in young adult literature: I have autism and the lack of authentic autistic voices in books angers me is well worth a read as well. Whilst its main focus is on young adult / children’s literature, it shifts to discussing the cross-media representation of autism as well.
Walker Books are launching Walker Studio; an imprint that will publish “books for book-lovers”. I am very much behind such an endeavour.
And finally, I loved this. Not the most obvious link to include in a children’s literature blog, but it’s “the sort of thing you would usually associate with an Enid Blyton adventure”. Yes. Exactly. I love it.