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Writing About Writing

May 18, 2015

But Feminism?

I started a new writing experiment. Third-person fiction-ish. A sub-super-secret blog from the secret blog that too many people read. Yeah, yeah….I know. Get over myself. Nobody cares.


Anyway, I took a kernel of truth and sort of ran with it, imagining a future scenario to see if I could write a fictional story. As I fantasized about an ideal life full of gallery shows and perfect boyfriends and a flat somewhere in Europe, I developed a thinly disguised version of myself. By the end of story, my heroine was going to embark on a dream trip after her more successful boyfriend gave her the opportunity. As I was thinking about the story and how to develop a plot, it occurred to me that I just wrote a very weak female lead. Why did it have to be someone else allowing her to make the trip? Why couldn’t this fictional fantasy person make her own dreams come true? I began to wonder….If this character is really me, in some idealized future form, am I capable of even fantasizing about myself as a successful person, capable of achieving goals? If I can’t even imagine myself that way, how will I ever become that person?

Am I waiting around for a male hero to make my wishes come true? I’m Liz Lemon with no Jack Donaghy.

I revealed this latest piece of self-absorbed over-analysis to my cohort of self-absorbed over analyzing.

Liz was in agreement. This was a major revelation: the fact that I can’t imagine myself actualized without a strong man around to make it happen. What ever shall I do?

I considered a rewrite. I thought about breaking the fourth wall and having the narrator debate the author.

Then I talked to my daughter. She is a gifted writer and follows many authors.

I told her about my dilemma. She asked for specifics.

“What’s wrong with that?” she countered. “So your character is with someone who cares about her and loves her and supports her goals so much that he helps her achieve them. What’s the problem?”


“You just want someone to love you for who you are and support you. Someone who thinks your goals are valuable and loves you so much that they want to help you. You came from someone who didn’t do that and just told you everything you dreamed of was stupid. Of course you’re going to fantasize about a man in your life who helps you. Just keep writing it. Getting help isn’t weak. Accepting help can be strong.”

God bless that girl. How did I raise such a wise woman? She talked about a book by Amanda Palmer that addressed that very issue.

I felt better. I went back to my story and let my hero surprise me, uh, I mean my character with plane tickets. Now I have to figure out what happens next. I don’t know how to write plots.


Speaking of But Feminism: Boring Women

Getting paid to write is nothing to scoff at. So when a local “women’s” magazine asked me to write their cover bio, I was thrilled. I’ve written the last 5 or 6, giving me a small chunk of cash to put into savings each month, a prospect I really can’t afford to turn down.

The stories are supposed to be about inspirational/successful women. And the first few were interesting. A lobbyist. A tiger-woman fashionista with a sordid reputation and fascinating past. The Cinderella story of a woman with a horrid childhood who slept in a car and know lives in mansion. The unassuming, funny, ambitious mother of three with endless accomplishments who is a joy to be around.

But lately, I can’t get excited about my subjects. They have thriving careers. They’re involved in everything. Junior League, Chamber of Commerce, Better Business Bureau, Women’s Blaa of Blaa to make the world better…..on the Board of [insert worthy cause here, arts, animals, children, education, symphony, planning…..]. They have 2.3 kids who are amazingly talented and play soccer and speak French and win awards. They are members of Mardi Gras Krewes and social clubs and have perfect hair and teeth and exercise every day and look like Jane Fonda, 15 years ago.

And I find them extraordinarily boring.

There’s a subset of the population here who seem to spend all of their spare time in professional or civic organizations where they chair committees and talk about synergy and cooperation and community and fixing the world, one committee meeting at a time. Not that there’s anything wrong with that. These are the people who make the world work, I suppose. These are the “successful” people.

When I think about being involved in those sorts of organizations, I feel my head threatening to explode. The after-hours gatherings, the schmoozing, the fakeness, the competition, the drama, the speeches. God, the speeches. I suppose that’s why I’m not one of them. One of the ambitious ones, the “successful” ones.

Maybe that’s why I can’t imagine myself making my own dreams come true.

And I have to write about them. Another story about a relatively privileged woman with few obstacles who got a good education, married well and runs her own business.

I used to think everyone had a story. An interesting story. But I’m not sure that’s what this publication wants. It wants safe, happy barbies telling their safe, happy stories.

As long as the checks clear, I guess I’ll keep churning them out.

Meanwhile, I’ll keep writing about the pretend me. Maybe I can write myself into the self-confidence I need to buy those plane tickets myself. Maybe my character can find the satisfaction and fulfillment I long for, if I let her, man or no man.

We’ll see.


From → Rantings

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