To or not to be (explicit)

No, I’m not talking about sex in writing this time, although I’ve had some amusing Facebook suggestions on how to name girls’ lower picnic areas for the virginity novel (and also a suggestion that it is called just that: The Virginity Novel.  Further opinions welcome.)

I am, in fact, talking about whether I should name the specific ethnicity of a character whose family comes from Elsewhere in the novel.  The reason I don’t want to, at this point, is because I’m writing about a family who is highly protective of their daughter (hence the lengths she has to go to for virginity-losing purposes), but the actual cultural background is less important than the fact of the family’s protectiveness.  I’ve come across such families from Croatia, from Italy, from Iran, from India, and what’s interesting to me is the way the girls in question have dealt with their constraints on one hand, and the comforting nest of family on the other.  In this case, I have in mind a particular country, and anyone who knows anything about the Middle East will recognise the source of the names, but I don’t want to pin it down because I don’t want the character to represent ‘that’ country, particularly, or for readers to imagine that all families from that background are like that. 

Writing this character is also tricky because she’s taking up the story up to the three-quarter mark, which is a hard ask at the best of times.  At this point, I just have to close my eyes and trust that the thing is going to work out, even if how the novel is working out isn’t what I envisaged.

In other news, the Productivity Commission’s draft report on recommended changes to copyright law is open for comment until this Thursday, I believe.  The changes will basically decimate the Australian publishing industry, and I repeated in my submission what many others have said more eloquently.  But I had to make comment, at the end, about the Productivity Commission’s bizarre reference to ‘psychic income’, as if this should have some bearing on the actual income writers receive.  So I finished my submission with:

I’m sure that staff members at the Productivity Commission and elsewhere also receive some internal satisfaction from the work they do. Nevertheless, I am sure they would not expect to see reference made to this in a report which has a potentially adverse effect on their earning capacity. If the recommended changes to parallel importation are brought into being, however, psychic income will be the only income available to Australian writers.

Watch this space.



3 thoughts on “To or not to be (explicit)

  1. Anonymous

    Hey Julia, it might be a more interesting challenge to write your way around the specifics of ethnicity. I have just read Amra Pajalic’s debut The Good Daughter. This is a novel that is writing about and from a particular cultural and religious perspective. It’s also a ripper portrait of teenagers from the Melbourne’s western suburbs. Because Amra is from this particular cultural/ethnic background, she can write about it with a certain authority. But that’s not the not main game for you. And as you say, by naming something that is common across different backgrounds, you exclude every other group. Perhaps best to let the reader ‘read’ who and what they want in a situation. It’s what we usually do, isn’t it?


    1. julialawrinsonwriter Post author

      Thank you, I’ll check that book out. And yeah, I know I will never have that kind of authority and wouldn’t pretend to, but at the same time I want to be respectful and informed … and in the end, the measure of my success of otherwise will be whether it fits in the novel. Wish me luck!



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