- as an author - matter?
Dan Holloway was talking about this on "Help I need a publisher" yesterday. It has caused quite a lot of discussion.
My father occasionally grumbles about "fancy dress" - by which he means things like religious or legal attire. Each time I remind him that he would not be impressed if a judge sat in a court room dressed in dirty jeans and a t-shirt with holes in it. He agrees. The conversation subsides - only to be resurrected later.
However my father has always been concerned about clean fingernails, clean hair and clean shoes if going out. He also, despite the above comments, believes in dressing appropriately for the occasion.
And I think that is the thing that matters for authors. You need to dress appropriately (and behave appropriately.)
In my comments to Dan I said I have seen (and met) a great many authors in my lifetime. Dan spoke of the poet Allen Ginsberg. Ginsberg once came to an Adelaide Festival of Arts Writers' Week along with Lawrence Ferlinghetti. They were two of the "big names" that year. I was introduced to them by the poet Judith Wright. What Judith really thought of them I was never sure. Ginsberg and I spent twenty minutes waiting for Judith late one afternoon. We sat on the steps of the old State Library lecture theatre and discussed Australian poetry. He was dressed in bib and brace overalls, a t-shirt and strings of hippie beads. Ferlinghetti, dressed in jeans and another t-shirt but without the beads, took me off to the pub where the writers were hanging out and bought me a lemon squash so he could grill me about the Barossa Valley. Ginsberg was interesting but I much preferred Ferlinghetti as a person - and not just because of the lemon squash. I was not particularly impressed by Ginsberg's beads. I thought they were ridiculous. (I was only about 18 at the time.) The way they dressed seemed, to me, to be indicative of their attitude to their audience. Ginsberg would have taken no notice of me at all in the general scheme of things. It was only because I had been specifically introduced - and he had been given something of mine to read which he presumably liked - that he bothered with me. Ferlinghetti was more of a people person and it showed.
All the children's writers I have met have been fairly conservatively dressed - some of them have been very conservatively dressed indeed. People like Ivan Southall and Colin Thiele sometimes used to wear a collar and tie. That is less likely now but, back in ancient times, they did that sort of thing. We had some writers for children at our local indie bookshop last year. They were all dressed in "casual" but neat dress. Nobody was wearing anything outrageous.
I would be wary of a writer for children who was outrageously dressed - unless it was intended to illustrate something from the books. Even then I think I would look for an underlying neatness, cleanliness and appropriateness of clothing that said, "I care enough about my audience to present myself well."
I think that is the thing. If you are an author then you need to respect your readers if you want their respect. As such, if I ever reach the giddy heights of being the author on display, I will endeavour to dress appropriately.