Welcome to the first Wednesday of the month. You know what that means! It's time to let our insecurities hang out. Yep, it's the Insecure Writer's Support Group blog hop. If you're a writer at any stage of career, I highly recommend this blog hop as a way to connect with other writers for support, sympathy, ideas, and networking.
If you're a reader, it's a great way to peek behind the curtain of a writing life.
September 2 question - If you could choose one author, living or dead, to be your beta partner, who would it be and why?
The awesome co-hosts for the September 2 posting of the IWSG are PJ Colando, J Lenni Dorner, Deniz Bevan, Kim Lajevardi, Natalie Aguirre, and Louise - Fundy Blue!
I've been fascinated with Shirley Jackson's work since I first encountered her book We Have Always Lived in the Castle in my library when I was weird thirteen year old kid.
I've returned to her work over and over since then, revisiting her work once a decade or so--re-reading favorites and finding new pieces I've missed. Even though my own writing is not disturbing in the same vein as Shirley's, I feel a connection to her, as if she speaks something inarticulate from deep inside my own consciousness.
Recently, I watched the quasi-biopic of her, based on the novel by Susan Scarf Merrell, and that feeling of connection was only strengthened. (The book/movie isn't accurate in a biographical sense, BTW, but it evokes a feel that I believed).
Like Shirley, I am ill-suited to be a housewife, even though I love my husband, my home, and our children and sometimes revel in taking care of them--and sometimes wish they weren't there, so I could focus on my life of words. We'd have that push and pull in common.
I, too, have a creative bent, and though I look pretty darn normal on the outside, it's more than a little weird inside my brain. Sometimes my mundane life and the worlds within my mind don't mesh well.
It's probably why her horror works so well for me. We both see the weird in the seemingly ordinary.
Luckily, I'm living my adult years in a different era than she did--she died six years before I was born. The expectation that I would marry and devote my life to only the work of household and children still lingers in the corners of my experience with other misogynist mumbo-jumbo, but no one is terribly shocked to learn that I work full time, or that I write. Those limiting views of femininity and a woman's role in the world have lost cachet and are no longer the norm, at least not that in my peer group.
I don't face social censure for the kinds of things that I write either. Not like she did. I also have a better husband than she did (at least as far as you can judge someone else's husband from what you see from the outside of the relationship).
I don't know that Shirley would have liked my work. She might accuse me of being too light or fluffy. But I suspect that if I could thicken my skin enough to take her criticism, my work would be the better for it. She would call me on it when I try to pull back from hard emotional moments or take it too easy on characters I've grown attached to, even more than my real-life critique partners do (and they don't really pull any punches--especially not Rebecca).
Would Shirley want or respect my opinion on her work? Maybe? I do have a lot of practice, as a middle school teacher, giving constructive criticism kindly and with support and compassion interlaced. And my admiration is sincere. I would mean the praise I offered.
Given the chance, I'd sit on the veranda with her and talk about the life of words, even if I had to put up with her cigarette smoke to do it. I like to think we'd get each other.