Friday, 7 March 2008

Wonderful Women

This photo was taken one lunchtime in colourful Kuala Lumpur

International Women’s Day
8th March 2008

I have just had a look at this site for International Women’s Day and I am staggered by how much women have achieved in the last decade without compromising their femininity. The women featured in the clips are spokespersons for their sponsorship companies and hail from all over the world. They are pretty inspiring

I will be spending International Woman's Day with a bunch of writers at the Scottish Association of Writers Conference in Erskine and I suspect the majority of them are women.

As a gesture for this auspicious day I have included on this blog a link to The Breast Cancer Site which I click on daily. The more daily clicks the site receives the more money the sponsor gives towards free mammograms. I am oblivious to the adverts on the site and have the click button as a recurring appointment on my calendar. Every little helps and it only takes a minute.

The UK site doesn't host such a gimmick but it is still worth bookmarking and keeping up with their fundraising events throughout the UK.

Writing and Reading

My writing regime is sinking in another peat bog. Every day my morning pages are filled with good intentions, but there is always something else needed attended to.

The problem is many of my characters are only half formed and the fully formed ones are taking me into areas of unknown. This means I am required to research, which of course is a wonderful distraction.

One of the books I have just read in a desperate attempt to pull me out of the bog is Odd Girl Out by Rachel Simmons sub titled The Hidden Culture of Aggression in Girls.

The book chronicles the author’s finding after a year long series of interviews with young girls and women on the subject of female bullying. This study was sparked by her casual question on the Internet, ‘how many women were bullied at school.’ The response she received was phenomenal; she was bombarded with cases, all with a similar story, that of, what she calls ‘Alternative aggression’ - non violent bullying.

Unlike boys who bully through violence and conflict, girls are taught from an early age to avoid conflict. The result of this lesson is a form of bullying that includes, rumour spreading, exclusion, silent treatment, and narrow eyed staring. I was surprised at how many of these devices I recognised from my youth and shocked at how many are still present in my adulthood.

Although this is a book of sociological study, the poetic style of writing made it a very enjoyable read. Simmons uses colourful and memorable metaphors to make her points. The book’s one flaw is that a number of issues are laboured and repeated.

Another book I have just completed as part of my research is the fascinating Grasping Africa by Stephen Chan.

I am red faced to admit that most of my knowledge of Africa comes from Wilbur Smith novels and Paul Theroux’s Dark Star Safari. Shocking I know! I am making amends now.
Grasping Africa begins at the Gleneagles G8 summit and rewinds to cover various aspects of African’s cultural and political history.

For such a modest book (171 pages) Grasping Africa does what it says on the cover. By skimming the surface of most of Africa’s nations, Chan has gifted me a taster of this vast continent. By also providing and discussing a number of novels and studies on the subject he’s provided me with enough food and distraction to keep me for my novel for the next six months.

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