The Literary Life and me

Ruth Hartley Storytelling, Books by Ruth Hartley, Cartoons, Comic Strip, Creative Writing, Creativity, Dust and Rain, Graphic Novel, Reading, Writing ProcessLeave a Comment

Posy Simmonds

Posy Simmonds is a brilliant artist, acute satirist and eye-watering cartoonist who, in Literary Life Revisited, exposes authors, publishers and the book trade. Her work is currently on display in the Centre Pompidou in Paris. She has the essential gift of making you laugh at yourself.

Funny Feminist Cartoons

I became addicted to Posy Simmonds’s Mrs Weber’s Diary in the Guardian newspaper. Mrs Weber was a middle-class, ‘woolly liberal’ who tried so hard to do the ‘right thing’ – it was a relief to laugh at her and, of course – at myself! Posy Simmonds is a feminist, but her razor-sharp wit means that she laughs at feminists too. Before Posy and Mrs Weber, the cartoon strip most seen was of Andy Capp and his wife Florrie. Astonishingly, in our French local paper, La Depeche, we still have to suffer the unforgivable misogyny of the 87-year-old Danish comic strip, Ferdinand.

Literacy and Numeracy

A few years ago, while I was still struggling to sell my novels, I bought Posy Simmonds’s Literary Life in which she details all the disasters writers endure – ah well – she tells the truth with such wit I can only grin and bear it. If you are a writer, go at once and buy it and learn from it. Posy’s first lesson is on Literacy and Numeracy – can you do the maths? I know all about it now and am much poorer for not learning it long ago.

Marketing Material

Her second lesson is on the writer’s image and marketing. As a crazy female writer, I thought that exciting stories and good writing would overcome the fact that I’m an old, white woman without an agent or publisher who simply is not media-marketable material.

Literate Philosophy

I grew up in the days of libraries and small bookshops. No matter how much I still love both, the digital world and global consumerism rule OK. Perhaps there is another way to tell stories – maybe I should take a stall in the market and read aloud in English as the French walk on by. Instead, I sit at my desk playing solitaire, rewriting my haikus and trying to philosophise about the tiny way my writing may matter or not. (Dust and Rain, my climate change kid’s book does matter! Go and buy it and save the world.)

Harare City Library

I’m very proud that copies of my books are in the Harare City Library. I did take them there, but they were accepted graciously and kindly. I’m not in the same wing as the famous Doris Lessing who donated all her books to the library, but it’s good to be there and near her. The library staff work very hard to encourage children to read and write. Once upon a time Harare had excellent book fairs and Zimbabwe has some very good writers – for example, Lucy Mushita, whose book, Chinongwa, is an excellent read.

Weaver Press

I have to write with sadness that Weaver Press will close down this year. I have known Irene Staunton since we were both about 16 years old and lived in Wedza District in what is now Zimbabwe. Publishing books ethically in Zimbabwe takes great courage and commitment. I’m very proud to know Irene and her husband Murray McCartney. I will also extend my admiration to Fay Gadsden of Gadsden Publishers in Zambia for the same reasons.

Sleepless Night Haiku

Stories must be spun

out of our light our lives and

the voices of our souls.

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