Open the box


Hello, and Happy Mothers Day to everyone who fits the appropriate category. Talking of which, subtle link eh, I’m fed up of not fitting in to the box publishers and others try to put me in. Don’t get me wrong I love a box, I adore a well designed shoe box, Tupperware is a total godsend, but I don’t enjoy someone who doesn’t know me trying to ensure they slot me neatly into a box to remain there indefinitely.

At work we have a women’s group, based on the assumption presumably that we women all have the same issues, we don’t. In competitions they aim often at writers from 18 – 25, I’m not. They target specific genres, I don’t. This always brings on the dilemma of do I change my chosen written locations to an old dark cemetery to fit into gothic, or should I manipulate my characters and manouvre their sexuality to fit into a competition aimed at gay or lesbian works? Do men find the same frustration with competitions aimed at female writers? What if I find an ideal competition but I live in Yorkshire, England not Nebraska, USA.

I sometimes even struggle to beat the search engine for competitions or publishers as I find my work difficult to categorise, will I be wasting my time and money aswell as alienating the gods otherwise known as publishing houses by committing the apparent cardinal sin and submitting my work to a publisher or an agent who doesn’t consider specific genres, i.e. mine!

This societal categorisation is not limited to writing, I enjoy photography and wanted to enter a travel photography competition for ‘new’ ‘up and coming’ photographers. I read the small print and discovered you can only be ‘up and coming’ until age 25; oh the disappointment. I feel heartily for those who have hit 26, they must see the end of their optimism battered into a cocked hat by being defined as the rest of us as over the hill at such a tender age. In my experience older travellers manage to get to quite a few places that young ‘uns might not want to, or be able to afford so please don’t write us off. We may even be able to afford some decent equipment once the kids have flown the nest which must be a bonus.

Surely publishing houses, photography magazines or online sites that depend on submissions and discovering talent should cast their nets a little wider in these constrained times of ‘austerity’ there must be alot of folk out there with talent who, like me, don’t like being slotted in boxes.

Maybe it’s the old punk in me, or just my aged stubbornness, but come on; talent is not limited by location or age, so give us nonconformists a chance. I haven’t bitten the heads off chickens or eaten a hamster as some nonconformists allegedly have, I just like what I like and it’s hard to categorise it. I enjoy Hockney, Da Vinci and Banksy; I like Orwell, Baldacci and Shakespeare. I just like variety don’t you?

I also happen to like Waterstones, they categorise books like ‘Classics’ which I doubt I will ever achieve which to be honest isn’t a bad thing as those writers in the main are, well, dead. Wtaerstones have ‘new releases’ and fiction, I aspire to those shelves which are not labelled ‘written by someone from Halifax or Heckmondwike’ not broken down into ‘writers aged between 30 and 32 with size 7 feet’ and they certainly wouldn’t exclude my artwork on their covers as unsuitable as I’ve passed the invisible barrier of having a zero at the end of my last birthday.

Fight against the machine and know you are valued, age, location or sex allowing! Any one spot a competition for a 50 yr old from Yorkshire with size 6 feet? I fit in that box…just! Damn, there’s me giving in, but hey I’m realistic if nothing else.


About Christie Adams, Writer

I'm a writer and creativity coach, I inspire and support busy men and women to become happy, balanced productive writers and creatives. My passion is to share motivation, inspiration, products and coaching to empower men and women, enabling them to find the time to reinvent themselves, redefine their ambitions and indulge their creativity.
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3 Responses to Open the box

  1. wightrabbit says:

    What advice would yer Aunty Lil give you, Christie? Bet she’d say, ‘Stuff ’em and write what you like, lass!’ That’s what I think anyway – trying to jump through other people’s hoops destroyed my confidence, so now I just blog -and say exactly what I want. 🙂

    • It would be good advice, I’m glad you are getting your confidence back via blogging! Sod the critics what do they know? I don’t mind the odd hoop, but only the ones I choose

  2. I know what you’re saying here, but it’s also worth keeping in mind that sometimes categorisation is there to help those who might not otherwise stand out – for example the photography competition you mentioned; it might not because they thought the older ones were past it, but rather because they thought the younger ones might not be able to compete against older more experienced people (more experienced with life in general I mean, not photography), so this was something specifically to help the young ones. I know sometimes categorisation can seem discriminatory, but often its aim is the opposite. Again, with competitions that focus on an obscure genre, it could be because they feel if it was open to all genres, then the obsure one wouldn’t get a look in. I am slightly playing devil’s advocate here, because I too have been frustrated about being left out of things due to not fitting into the category, but I have also (through my work) seen a specific example of a particularly disadvantaged group being left out of something when a competition was opened up wider.

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