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Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Feminist Sexist?

                                                 Image result for outlander jamie

I have admitted with sad awareness in my old age that I have always been something of a sexist. It's not that I don't have wonderful women friends whom I love because I do. It's not that I haven't written and protested and carried signs for women's rights, because I have. It's not that I'm not supportive of women's causes because I am. I'm a full-fledged Hillary Clinton fan. I can't wait to see a woman in the White House as president.

But, having said all that, my heroes have always been males. When I was young, I wanted the main characters of the books I read to be male. I wanted the leads in the movies I saw to be men. Even now, the only t.v. program I watch is Outlander. I admire the Diana Gabaldon for having created a strong, fearless, intelligent female character - Claire. I respect the producers for accentuating her strengths. But, nevertheless, I doubt if I would watch if it wasn't for Jamie, her husband and lover. He's the one who draws me in so that that Saturday night hour is inviolate, no matter what else may be going on.

When I go to the library to pick out books, I read author's names rather than titles....and I mostly pass by female authors. I read the blurbs and if the protagonist is a woman, I usually put it back on the shelf.

Now I write books myself. I've written 13 novels and only one features a female main character and femininity wasn't her strong suit. I relate more to men than I do to women.

I wonder if that is cultural? I'm 69. When I was a girl, only boys played "real sports". Cowboys were all men though they might have a wife, like Dale Rogers, as a helpmate. Superheroes were all men until Wonder Woman came along. It goes without saying that all presidents were men, and most congresspeople too. Courageous soldiers were men. Even most breadwinners were men then....as were most inventors and scientists and doctors and college professors and pilots. In the beginning, all astronauts were men. So were police officers and firemen. And don't forget Supreme Court Justices.

So, where else were you to look but at the men to find your heroes other than the occasional Madame Curie or Amelia Earhart or Florence Nightingale?

Perhaps I'm a case of arrested development because be they actors, musicians, book charactors or athletes, my most loved are men - Johnny Depp and Sam Heughn, Jack Reacher and Gabriel Allon, Jimmie Johnson and Peyton Manning, David Garrett and Prince. I can't think of a list of similar females although I like some of them well enough.

Do you suppose it is possible to be both a feminist and a sexist?

Thursday, June 16, 2016

The Exhilaration of Creativity

                                                 Image result for writers

This is my favorite place to be: I'm at my desk. I have a pack of cigarettes, a lighter and an ashtray on my left, along with a mug of coffee on a coaster. My keyboard and monitor are directly in front of me. On the wall above, is a picture of a window ledge that holds a book, a cup and saucer and a vase of pink roses. The window looks out on the beach. It is a scene I can disappear into when I'm mulling my next sentence. It is where I wish I was instead of a small town in land-locked Indiana where a sea of waving corn serves as our ocean.

A long-haired tortoise shell cat (Paisley) is curled in a ball on one chair and a blonde Pekinese (Chantilly) is snoring in another. A huge gray part-Maine Coon cat (Slate) is stretched out at my feet; a black and white kitten (Filigree) is laying on an antique plate on the dining room table.

The house is dead quiet except for faint outside sounds- a lawn mower down the street, some kids giggling on their way to Kelly's Ice Cream, the booming base of a hipster's truck. The television is on so I can read the headline crawl when I go through the kitchen but it is on mute. The speakers on the computer are turned off.

So, it's just me and my animals and my computer. It may seem as if there's not much going on but that's not true. There are people, places and things inside my own head. I have no outlines or character sketches or 3x5 cards to go by although I sometimes write down rudimentary timelines. I don't need any of those things. I know who these people are and they know what they are going to do next. I am as close to them as to the real humans in my life.

I am not an organized writer, rather I write quickly, by the seat of my pants, letting it all spill out onto the keyboard. This spontaneity is what makes writing fun for me. I think plotting and planning down to the last detail would ruin the joy of it.

I revel in the pleasure of words although I'm not one who uses a lot of high-brow words or phrases. My writing is like me...rather plain and blue collar. I do love words though. Today, I learned a thing on Facebook that thrilled me: a large group of sting rays is called a "fever of sting rays." Isn't that a marvelous and perfect phrase? Discovering it made my day.

I played a game of Scrabble with the computer this morning and reflected that my least favorite vowel is the letter "i". I simply have an instinctive dislike of it. When it appears in my Scrabble rack, I get rid of it first if I can, either by using it or swapping it for another.

I write books, blogs (three of them about: 1) politics, 2) NASCAR and 3) writing) as well as a weekly newspaper column. I appreciate the variety. Politics is nothing like writing and writing is nothing like NASCAR. My newspaper column is more proscribed by length and language and subject than the blogs. I have to please an editor with the newspaper column. I don't have to please anyone but myself with the books and blogs.

Most people don't think my writing matches my real persona. It is sharper and harsher than the plump gray-haired grandma I appear to be. I seem like the type who would write romance novels or cozy mysteries instead of novels about race car drivers and serial killers and graphic sex.

I don't follow the "write what you know" theory. I've never based a book in Indiana. I like doing the research that allows my characters to live in Romania and Ireland, New York City and New Mexico and New Orleans. You never know what you will find. I was completely charmed by Ireland but felt nothing but distaste for France. I had no idea this would be the case going in.

Writing is pure creativity - starting from scratch to build your own world with its own cast of unique characters and scenes and actions. There is nothing else quite so exhilarating.