Write Like a Girl

Hi. My name is Jessica and I write like a girl.

‘Into the Arms of Morpheus’ is a manuscript I have been back and forth with since about 2009. I wrote it, then tediously went through to correct minor grammatical errors in what was essentially a rubbish first draft.  I had it beta read.  By beta read, I mean that people (mainly writers) agreed to read it for me and give me their honest opinion.  I got some positive remarks, some not so much.It needed a lot of work.

Then I realised the whole thing was crap so I completely rewrote it. I changed characters, deleted scenes, wrote from different points of view.  Then someone got back to me and told me it was no good, not even a story and I should consider rethinking it again. I left it alone for some time and became depressed.   I tried alternative methods of getting the story to sort itself out.

Contrary to popular belief, excessive alcohol consumption does not equal really awesome creativity. It just means a hideous hangover and being unable to concentrate the next day, for me anyway.I am no hard core Hemingway….as you may have guessed.

But every now and again, I need that glass of Sauvignon Blanc and if you try and take it from me (which you won’t because I’m delightful when inebriated)….you’ll find I will be quite abrupt and rather awkward the next time you see me.  In my head anyway….*sigh*.

 Moving on, another writer suggested I write short stories based on the characters within the novel length manuscript. That helped, and it felt good.  Then I wrote two other novel length manuscripts, completely different stories.  That also helped, and felt wonderful.

Both ‘novels’ (aka ‘crappy first drafts’) have been neglected due to me needing to finish Morpheus.  I became obsessed with it.  I didn’t even care that people look at me funny when I say I’m a writer yet I don’t have anything published.  That used to embarrass me.  I’m over it now.

Finally, I got Into the Arms of Morpheus to a point where I was actually happy with it. I sent it out to be beta read and was receiving mainly praise apart from one rather savvy young lady who said ‘it needs restructuring…these POVs are dull…these are exciting…’  I agreed with her, I preferred certain characters so I restructured.

Now, two betas told me they think it’s worth the read and putting out there. I have agreed on cover art, I’ve asked someone to edit it for me.  I was getting oh so excited the other day.   Then another reader got back to me yesterday expressing a great deal of frustration, saying he preferred it as it was last time around.  To a certain extent, his critique was influenced by male vs. female demographic.  Of course I took on board his comments about technical issues, and I still respect his opinion.

 I respect anyone who beta reads.  They are willing to give their time and raw opinion, as well as useful advice.  As a writer it’s important to embrace different points of view.  You need to understand where people are coming from.  After all, it’s your chosen occupation to create personalities, places, etc.  If you can’t appreciate other people’s thoughts, it’s a problem.  

 If you are false, one-sided, or self-centred it will cripple your ability to come up with characters, let alone get across what happens to them and how they behave in different scenarios.

I love the idea of writing something that appeals to men, women, young and old. But a certain male in my family recently told me, after reading a short story of mine, that even if he didn’t know who wrote it he would be able to tell it had been written by a female.  Basically I’ve been told that I, ‘write like a girl.’

Am I ashamed of that? Do I feel it’s a weakness?  No.  I dig characters with emotional lives.  I love romance and sensuality in stories.  I appreciate elaborate plots, gorgeous world building skills, magic and high drama.  And let’s face it some of the best stories with those elements are penned by women.

Here is a mix of my favourite female authors from varying eras and genres: Philipa Greggory, Willa Cather, Melissa Marr,  Kate Chopin,  J.K. Rowling,  Michelle Muto,  Laura Taylor,  Zora Neal Hurston.    I could go on and on.  I love my kindle, and flipping through my library anyone would notice I prefer female writers. That isn’t surprising given that I am one.  BUT I do want to advance and grow.  I’ve got stories that require a male perspective.

 Like it or not, men and women need to work together, both inside and outside of stories. I’ve read female characters penned by male authors and felt like launching something across the room.  But I’ve no wish to return the favour.   I actually do want to understand how typical and not so typical guys (like my husband) think in certain (MAYBE NOT ALL) situations.

I admit, I need to read more stories by men. Even if I’m always only going to appeal to women, I want anyone reading my work to ‘believe’ my characters, male and female.

I enjoy Hemingway from time to time, he was one of my favourites at university. I’ve recently read Andy McNab’s  ‘Bravo Two Zero’, and I’ve downloaded more of his work.  Michael Koryta’s ‘The Ridge’ and Julian Barnes’ Before She Met Me’ are recent favourites.  

I don’t know about all writers, but if they are like me, they come up with concepts, the idea of a character and fantasise about how they could play with that to create a story. Then the writing happens.  That’s the hard bit.  It’s hopeful it will have a wide appeal, but not always possible.  I was told by one of my first beta readers  (really nice lady and great author called Mia Darien) that writing should be a passion.  I agree.

Because it’s possible nothing will come of your little attempts, and you will just carry on struggling.

All the same it should come from your heart and your imagination. No doubt family and friends who really know you, understand full well that you become not so nice of a person when you aren’t allowed time to spend with your stories.

Okay I know some do it for the money. They figure out what’s popular/what’s not/ they read about the market and good for them.  They are savvy, we need folks like that.  But I’m not like that.

For me, I always think of that song that’s on the radio by Sam Smith – ‘Money on My Mind’ when he sings the lyrics ‘I do it for the love…’ I relate that to how I feel about my own writing. I reckon he earns a bit of money from that song though.  Still, he did it initially ‘for the love’, for his craft, and that’s what’s important.

So, coming soon will be my first little attempt.   By little attempt I mean I worked really freaking hard on it and YES it has taken me this long *sigh*.  It’s likely it will only appeal to a certain demographic, it’s probably not going to do all that well amongst the competition.

But it’s mine, it’s coming and as Ice Cube said in the track ‘You Can Do it (put your back into it)’….’Life ain’t a track meet (no) it’s a marathon….’  I love that song!  Anyway….

So, in closing, what if my work is limited to a female demographic?

In this crazy writing world, women are a force to be reckoned with both as authors and readers.  No ‘twerking’ required.