on the writing & reading trail

Days 94-95 (August 15-16)

Editing: A fair bit of time today was spent with an awkward chapter. Freya was attending a conference in Nairobi and being introduced to the challenges experienced by health workers striving to gain recognition and action at all levels to address the escalating AIDS epidemic in many African countries. In the late nineties the responses were varied with some health authorities choosing the route of denial.

In my chapter I hadn’t got the balance right to avoid it seeming like an information dump. Problem is that even before making changes the content fell so far short of representing the situation. But I need to remember I am writing a fiction not a treatise, so there is a need to weigh the offsets. The full facts (so far as they can be) are in other places, in the background reading.

My information came mainly from the work of Canadian journalist, Stephanie Nolen and a report of the MSF Campaign for Access to Essential Medicines which was published sometime after my relevant timeframe but indicated their earlier involvement. Some details can be found:  http://www.msfaccess.org/our-work/overcoming-barriers-access/article/1374    and http://www.msfaccess.org/the-access-campaign

Nolen’s book 28: Stories of AIDS in Africa is a remarkable collection and I commend it to anyone with an interest in this area.

Hopefully my chapter is improved now. Will re-read it tomorrow. A short extract follows:

The AIDS presentations made Freya’s head spin as stories of ignorance and inertia unfolded.

Experiences were different in different countries and communities as reported by health workers, journalists, and several brave souls determined to advocate for others at the expense of their own reputations.

Most shocking of all were the cover-ups; leaders of countries apparently in denial of the existence of the disease in their communities, unable to accept the reality of departures from the phantom moral codes; denying that hazardous sexual practices were occurring, contrary to supposed cultural norms. Individuals who did not want to admit to casual partnering outside their traditional marital structures often avoided testing. And some men who were tested chose not to tell multiple wives of their positive HIV status. 

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Exercise: A long walk in the park after yesterday’s editing was a delight. Warmth and sun and few cyclists made for a comfortable time in good company with an author friend who is planning the launch of her fifth book next month. I’m looking forward to reading it.

This wonderful bird was elusive yesterday but I caught him on a recent visit.

Still for a portrait

Relaxation: Tomorrow is a fun day. Am meeting some writer friends for coffee and a chat that will carry us through to lunchtime – always enjoyable. Apart from talk of writing matters and progress on compiling our anthology, we catch up on personal things as well. Writing brings great friendships. Congratulations to Nene who was featured on this blog as a guest author recently. She had word that a story will appear in an anthology soon. Great excitement.

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