I just added a section with links to writers' blogs to the blog homepage.
It seemed like a good idea. I already had a selection of publishing blog links and I didn't want my blog to imply that I'm the sort of person who is very passionate about Getting Published and Having My Name In Print and asking the publishers if My Best Friend Could Please Design The Cover, and Planning My Phantom Book Tour, and is not at all passionate about Reading Books and Trying To Write The Sodding Things Well In The First Place.
In fact, if someone told me today I'd never be published, I'd still write. Just slower ('Dear God, how?!' I hear you shriek. No one likes a smartarse). And as Scout Finch said about Jem, no system devised by man could stop me getting at books, so I'd still read. Possibly faster, since I was writing slower.
Anyway, I just finished assembling my list of writers' blog links and I realised that all of the writers I listed are female. This isn't deliberate at all (I am something of a feminist, but a book is a book is a book), but I thought it was interesting.
I did find quite a few of those writers through Kristin Nelson, who reps a lot of women and seems to have a strong female-focus on her list [I almost typed 'lust' instead of 'list'. Would that have made my blog traffic shoot through the roof as aspiring writers everywhere flocked to see me make groundless pronouncements about Kristin Nelson's personal life? I can only guess], so it stands to reason that I follow a few female bloggers through Pub Rants. I've been obsessed with Sarra Manning since I was the right age to read her teen fiction (God be with the days. . . ), which accounts for her presence.
Yet the strange thing is that my list of favourite writers is fairly evenly balanced between male and female. A partial, off-the-top-of-my-head list would have to include Joseph Heller, JD Salinger, Sylvia Plath, Rebecca Wells, Ann-Marie McDonald, Ian Rankin, Terry Pratchett, David Nobbs, Kathleen Winsor, Alexander McCall Smith, Alice Hoffman and Jodi Picoult. I made an effort to keep the list reasonably contemporary, but if I expanded it, it would probably include slightly more male writers, simply because historically there are more of them.
I don't believe I've ever met a man whose favourite writer was a woman, although lots of the women I know would name a man as their favourite writer (not me, because I can never name just one). It could be because a lot of my female friends studied English with me, and the canon is pretty male-centric - a sample of the general population might be different. But I am definitely right that not a single man I know would name a female writer as his favourite [and if any men I know crop up in the comments section swearing blind that they just adore Cecelia Ahern, they're just doing it to embarrass me, so please ignore them].
Do we still have the perception that women speak for women and men speak for everyone? Has any PhD candidate ever tracked links to writers' blogs by gender? How many men link to men, and women to women?
I have refused to lend books to guys I know if I don't think they'll like them because they're too 'girly'. This makes me part of the problem, I guess, if there is indeed still a problem.
One thing that does amuse me, though, is that I'm about to trawl the internet for interesting blogs by male writers to try and redress the balance. And if I was trawling for female bloggers to redress the balance, I'd be accused of tokenism. It probably is tokenism, but I'm choosing to believe that I'm widening my selection of blogs in order to move outside my web-comfort-zone. So there.