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This Week on Writers Abroad: 14 April
Category: Site News
Tags: Writers Abroad writing

Jo is away in the UK this week and I think we’ve had a slight mix-up about the This Week slot, so I’ll stand in.

Doreen has posted this week’s blog, a thought-provoking piece exploring the distinction (if there truly is one) between literary and popular fiction. Doreen points out that Dickens, now considered a literary writer, wrote the popular fiction of his day.

I have posted the Monday Muse prompts for this week, including a couple of picture prompts. Have a go (sez she!) if you’ve a spare half hour. A short story, poem or a piece of non-fiction – whatever takes your fancy.

The April challenge is still open, so post up your competition entries or a piece of work in progress on which you’d like some feedback. Jo posted up a ‘first chapter’ competition, for which you are given the first para of a first chapter and you have to continue in 800-1,000 words. Deadline early May, so still time.

Paola continues to post up her fascinating chapters from ‘Joyriding in Dhaka’, which is really taking shape. Well done, Paola.

On the bragging stool, Vesna is in the hot seat with her ‘bragette’ about her creepy piece ‘Calico Pie’, which has been shortlisted in a flash fiction contest on . Well done, Vesna, and fingers crossed for the final round. Let me know if I’ve missed anyone who deserves an accolade.

Jo has already emailed everyone about the change of date but this is just a reminder that the Formal Chat has been moved from next Sunday (which is, of course Easter) to the following Sunday 27th April at 11h00 CET. Doreen is in the chair.  

Please let me know if I’ve forgotten anything.

Happy writing and Happy Easter. I hope everyone’s enjoying the lovely weather we’re having down in SW France this week. It might even stay fine over Easter…

Iiterary or Popular Fiction?
Category: Writing
Tags: blog fiction

Literary or Popular fiction?

At a recent meeting of my Discussion Lunch Group, we were invited to consider a study published in the U.S. journal Science that claimed reading literary fiction as opposed to popular fiction, improves a person's social skills and makes us more empathetic.

Most of us fell at the first hurdle, being unable to agree what is literary and what is popular fiction. According to Wikipedia, all genres have works that are well written, but not all those works are considered literary fiction. To be considered literary, a work usually must be "critically acclaimed" and "serious”. In practice, works of literary fiction often are "complex, literate, multi-layered novels that wrestle with universal dilemmas".

Today, Jane Austen and Dickens are regarded as “literary”, yet Dickens was the popular fiction of his day, even published in weekly instalments. It has been said that if he were alive today, he would be writing scripts for EastEnders. Are we less likely to empathise with the plight of a mill girl or kitchen maid if we read about it in a Catherine Cookson novel? Then there are those authors — and I would cite PD James and Ian Rankin — whose books are well written, yet would never be classed as “literary” because of their genre.


Indeed, isn’t there an element of snobbery about it all? Rather like the people — and we have all met them — who claim “I only ever watch wildlife programmes and documentaries on TV”, there are those who boast that they read nothing that hasn’t appeared on the Booker shortlist. Are they the ones who are missing out, or are we simply dumbing down if we download a Maeve Binchy onto our Kindles?


On the whole, our Group felt that what a person gains from reading is influenced by so many other variables in their lives. Education, upbringing and religion have profound influences on people’s attitudes to what they read and what they gain from a book. There are also differences in gender and personal life experiences. Age is very important, as one may be more receptive to particular books at different periods of one’s life. Popular fiction, we concluded, provides pleasure and relaxation to many busy intelligent people. And surely it is better to read any book rather than nothing at all. Or do you disagree?







This Week on WA: 7 April
Category: Site News

Crilly, Glyn and I are on again with Blogging and Musing and This Weeking! I believe we were a team two weeks ago! Thank goodness Jo reminded me.

My week has been one of celebrations in Rome, with my dad's 90th birthday, my parents' 66th wedding anniversary, and my husband and daughter's birthdays too.

But on to the subject at hand. 

Crilly has written a great blog about reading and writing, and how the first might influence the second. She also mentioned a blog-bank, which seems like an excellent idea. Pity a This Week Bank wouldn't work so well...

Several of us met at an informal chat yesterday, and even Chris Nedahl defeated the cyber-gremlins and made it! We expect you at every future meeting, Chris!

Please note, all, that the next formal meeting will be on 27 April, a week later than previously scheduled, as Easter falls on 20th.

Glyn will no doubt give us some great muses: get ready, poets!

On the bragging stool we have the Glyn/Vanessa duo: Glyn  got a great review for his poetry, and Vanessa was runner up in the Global Short Story competition with 'Into the Abyss'. Vanessa also has a feature in Writing Magazine about organising a literary festival, and Glyn provided a lot of input for this. 

April challenges a-plenty on the Challenges forum, and do keep posting thoughts on possible meetings/reunions this summer.

Happy week, all. I head back to Dhaka on Friday for a busy final stint!


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This Week on Writers Abroad: 14 April
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This Week on Writers Abroad: 14 April
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