It’s been coming for a while; years in fact, and in some
ways it feels like a relief. She didn’t really do much in later life, and
quietly lived out her final years in a tall, musty house in Ramsgate, Kent.
Yet despite her solitude, she remained ever-present in our lives, a woman who could be relied on to be stubborn and unbending in matters of elderly respectability and social pride. Despite her setbacks, she quietly soldiered on, pottering about, living one day to another with barely a shrug or complaint.
One of the hardest things about writing is that it inevitably
leads you to bare some small part of your soul to the world. This is
particularly true of fiction as the world you create is wholly your own. If
someone doesn’t like your characters, then they don’t like the characters you created. Similarly, if they have a
problem with the politics, or the themes of your work, then again, they have a
problem with your politics, and your themes. This is quite different from
other types of writing where more
often than not you will be working to a set of guidelines that may constrain
your work, for in this case, the work you produce is all down to you, and there
is simply no place to hide.
This challenge becomes even more difficult when it comes to
self-publishing. Unlike regular publishing, where you might have an editor and
production team working with you to oversee the process, when it comes to
self-publishing, the power is wholly in your hands. This can be a remarkably
liberating step, and certainly has a number of advantages; however, it can also
pose great challenges when it comes to marketing and self-promotion. On the one
hand, naturally, you want to sell your work, and put it out there, but at the
same time, there is a sense that absolutely everything to do rests on your shoulders,
and if someone doesn’t like it, then it’s completely down to you.
It’s my birthday today, and to celebrate, I thought I’d post a blog about this very website, MJRyder.net, which turned 10 earlier this year. I can’t believe that a whole decade has passed since I started the project, and it’s certainly had its highs and lows, however, I’m glad to say it’s going as strong as ever, and I’m really happy with the way it’s been taking shape. Here’s to another 10 years!
Just over a year ago now, I published the results of a small survey I shared with my followers on Facebook. The idea was to test a few theories I had been working on around ethics and the relative value we assign different forms of life. In this case, I was specifically interested in how we think about animal life, and how we respond to different species when it comes to decisions around life and death.
Even though my survey was relatively small, the results were quite remarkable, and show a clear trend in responses that favour saving larger and more ‘noble’ animals, over smaller, ‘less intelligent’ animals that may be perceived to be in some way less worthy. While a utilitarian perspective should in theory show that the save/kill decisions made by respondents should be weighted equally across five different species of farmyard animal (each life is, after all, of equal ‘value’), respondents very clearly favoured saving a single horse over a single chicken. This trend continued when participants were asked to choose between saving a single horse or five chickens, with many respondents still opting to save the horse, while many respondents would much prefer to kill five chickens, instead of a single horse.