Saturday, June 11, 2011

If I sound like a man, there's a reason

If you have read more than one of my books by now, you have certainly picked up on the fact that I love to write from the male perspective. In fact, in my new Art of Love series I am staying in a male character's perspective longer than ever. I am intentionally making the heroes the center of the story. I wanted to show a fractured family that was mending itself. I wanted to explore a strong relationship of an older father to his adult sons. In a way, I feel like these three books will be a truth about familial male bonding that I don't think gets a fair shake most of the time. There are lot of really good fathers out there. We mostly only get to hear about the bad ones.

It is a well-known writing risk for one gender to write too much from the perspective of another. In all honesty, if I had sent Carved In Stone to a traditional publisher of romances, the first request I would have gotten from them would be a recommendation to change the primary talking character to the heroine. Being able to take the risk of writing from a male perspective with readers, instead of publishers, is just one more reason I am grateful to be an Indie author. Am I going to always get it right? No. I'm not a man. However, I am adventurous enough to try living with my character in the male perspective and seeing what readers think.

So why do I do this? I love men. Okay, maybe that doesn't sound right. How about I just say that I like them a lot. I see their imperfections and their humanity, their weaknesses and their strengths. None of that offends the female in me, even if I roll my eyes or walk off in a snit. I have an empathy for their preference to be the hunter instead of the hunted in relationships. I understand the sacrifice it is to commit fidelity to just one and give up culling the herd of available females. At my age, I can tell you there are many, many women who are just the same regardless of what statistics are put out about such things. Look at how many women divorce after forty and you'll start to understand what I mean. Genders are not so unalike in their relationship thinking and sexual needs as science would like us accept, especially if you understand older women. I sincerely enjoy exploring this by creating both male and female characters who bust the "norm"and just live life on their own terms.

To play armchair psychoanalyst on myself, I would say I seek to explore what it is to be male so I can understand the chaos of being female. I was raised by a single mother and do not know my biological father. There were men in my household, but I took care of them, not the other way around. I was terribly in love with a boy in high school who repeatedly broke my heart until I chewed off a leg to escape the trap of my feelings for him. I was married twenty-three years to a man who oozed manliness, but had an unfortunate negative outlook on life. Divorcing him cost me things I can't even begin to describe.

Finally at the ripe old age of 41, I found the best man I have come across who in twelve years has taken me through all the above again. He is over a decade younger than me. The heartbreak and frustration came with the rest of the package. The difference is that at least the current male genuinely likes me and will chase me down when I walk off in a snit. For that, I'm still deeply glad to be the one he culled from the herd and kept. Maybe like my 50 year old character Alexa in Dating A Cougar, I guess I just have a thing for sexy former Marines. Or maybe I'm just a crazy female. It's hard to tell sometimes.

If I lost the current love of my life for any reason, it would shatter me. But now I know myself. I would eventually just start the process of trying to connect to another male all over again because I like spending time with men. Now you can see why I ended up writing stories about humorous relationships.

I follow the blog of fellow writer who is man attempting to write scenes and characters that women will appreciate. He wants to create believable female characters, believable sex scenes, and ultimately a romantic relationship that his female readers will buy as real. Many of his blogs are explorations of all that is woman. I find them funny, but also genuine and sincerely admirable.  I like him for that alone, though I intend to buy the book he is working on so diligently.

I am including a link here to a favorite blog post of mine that Dave Thome wrote about translating "Chickish into Guyese". This post was short and simple. His comment about after thirty years later still being able to "vividly photoshop" himself into his friend's place in feeling a woman underneath him still makes me laugh no matter how many times I read it. It is the voice of an honest male. It is direct. And the ring of truth in it is absolutely undeniable. His female readers will respond to his writing voice because they will know, simply know that he gets it or is really, really trying to do so.

Writers choose to write about what they admire and/or what they long to understand more. When I write from the male perspective, this is certainly the case for me. It is my hope that my sincere appreciation of all things men and male comes through in my work, even when my sense of humor gets the better of my writing. Nobility and perfection are not nearly as interesting. I'd rather have real. Still, a happy ending would never be possible in my stories if my male characters did not prove out to be the good guys that most men sincerely try to be in reality.
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