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Posts Tagged ‘Fay Weldon’

What Fay Weldon Learned About Creative Writing in an Ad Agency

Could working in an advertising agency teach you about creative writing?

You day-job might be more useful than you think. In a thought-provoking video interview at Open Road, author Fay Weldon explained how her time at an ad agency gave her invaluable lessons about the writing life. Here is a key excerpt:

I used to think creative writing couldn’t be taught and that you just kind of did it—until I realized that I had actually learned in an advertising agency all these skills of knowing what to say and what not to say. Of being rejected all time and having things discarded for reasons you couldn’t understand but had to come to understand. You can never teach what people are or what they have to say. Because they have to do that. But you can teach them how to have their words appreciated or to get the value of words. Nobody can say quite what they want to say or would say if left to their own devices. Because they want to be liked. It seems important that you should risk not being liked.

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Authors Guild Sues to Impound 7 Million Scanned Books

augui.gifThe Authors Guild has joined with the Australian Society of Authors, the Union Des Écrivaines et des Écrivains Québécois (UNEQ) and eight authors in a lawsuit over a collection of digitally scanned copies of seven million books. Recently these universities combined resources to create the HathiTrust digital collection at the University of Michigan.

The Guild aims to “impound” the collection until the matter is settled in court. Follow this PDF link to see the complaint. The copyright suit was leveled against HathiTrust, the University of Michigan, the University of California, the University of Wisconsin, Indiana University, and Cornell University.

The six authors who joined the suit included  novelists Angelo Loukakis, Roxana Robinson, Daniele Simpson, and Fay Weldon, children’s author Pat Cummings, poet Andre Roy, scholar James Shapiro and biographer T.J. Stiles. The University of Michigan planned to allow faculty and students to download copies of orphaned works in this digital collection.

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British Council Ripped for Pouring Energies Into Middle East

For decades, the British Council has funded libraries and cultural initiatives across Europe. But the Observer reports that after a 20 million pound cut in its budget for European countries – one example being the impending closure of the Athenian library, with 8,000 volumes carted off to the University of Athens – the focus is shifting to Middle Eastern countries as the council attempts to bridge the ‘widening gap of trust’ between the UK and Muslim states.

Iraq, Afghanistan and Bangladesh are among ‘high priority’ regions that will also receive a 50 per cent boost in support for projects to steer Muslims away from extremism. And as the council’s physical presence in Europe is cut back, public access buildings, some recently renovated at spectacular cost, will close. “You cannot succeed unless you enter into risky areas and are prepared to deal with them,” Cathy Stephens, acting director of British Council operations, told The Observer. “We are in transformational mood,” she said, acknowledging that, while security is an issue, the ultimate aim is to win over the hearts and minds of men and women in predominantly young populations across the Arab world.

The change has some writers very upset. “This whole policy is misconstrued from top to bottom,” complains Charles Arnold-Baker, author of THE COMPANION TO BRITISH HISTORY. “We are going somewhere where we can’t succeed and neglecting our friends in Europe who wish us well. The only people who are going to read our books in Beirut or Baghdad are converts already.” Fay Weldon is equally ominous. “I hope the Islamic world is grateful,” she said. “I doubt that it will be.”

Advertisers Try a Subtle Sell on Publishers

The Washington Post’s Anita Huslin checks in on advertising’s latest efforts to market their products within the pages of books and how the line between art and ad is ever-blurred. As an example, she uses Mark Haskell Smith‘s commissioned crime story from Lexus, which is running in quarterly installments on Lexus‘s website and in its magazine. It’s all part of what’s called “seamless brand integration” a buzzword that means books, cartoons, video games and even television shows are now the hottest vehicles for advertisers to get their products in front of a target audience. So Smith, who aside from writing crime novels (his third, SALTY, is due out later this year) also writes for television and film, shaped his story “to be really cool and different and literary.” He says, “It doesn’t read like an ad.”

Product placement is hardly new; go back to Dickens for its earliest incarnation, but more recent efforts include Fay Weldon‘s THE BULGARI CONNECTION, Beth Ann Herman‘s POWER CITY and Melanie Lynne Hauser‘s Super Mom novels (for which Swiffer has given Hauser free products to give away on her blog, along with other promotional opportunities). For his part, Smith says there was little the company did to encroach on his artistic freedom in writing the serial novel, other than to question his assertion that you can’t find a good taco outside of Los Angeles and to nix a sex scene. “I wanted to have this little scene, because you can talk about how nice the seats are, how they recline, how they’re really soft. And actually they have these seat coolers in the car, and they really work. I thought, fantastic, you can have hot output on the cool seats. But they thought: No . . . that was too much.”

melanie-lynne-hauser.gifRon adds: Melanie Lynne Hauser writes in with a clarification: “While CONFESSIONS OF SUPER MOM does center around Swiffer products (as the heroine gets her superpowers after suffering a Horrible Swiffer Accident), I don’t view it as ‘product placement,’” she explains. I was simply searching for an identifiable brand or product that would make sense in the context—since she’s a mom, housecleaning was my first idea—and Swiffer was such an instantly recognizable term…and I was already a Swiffer product junkie long before I wrote the book!” Procter & Gamble reacted with good humor and enthusiasm, but everything they’ve done to help promote the Super Mom series followed her spontaneous creative decision. “I certainly didn’t write the book with the goal of some kind of corporate sponsorship in mind. But in today’s publishing climate, I don’t think that’s a bad thing anymore,” she says. “It would be different if every book got the same promotional opportunities from publishers, but we all know that doesn’t happen.”