Friday, July 17, 2009

Writing What You Don't Know?

The conventional wisdom is to write what you do know. If so, then my stories should be rife with middle-aged women undergoing middle-aged crises of work, heart, and soul. But they are not. Instead, for some strange reason I write from the perspective of young men (very young men who most would argue are really on the cusp of adulthood) who have very different life experiences and situations than myself.

Why do I write what I write?

This fascination with young men likely stems from my total lack of understanding of what drives them. Males in their late teens and early twenties are mysterious creatures and, I sense, conflicted ones: how does one become a man in this society?

Aboriginal societies send their pubescent males into the wilds for walk-abouts. Other tribal groups will circumcise, conduct trial by fire challenges, or encourage duels to death. American society sends young men to college and/or work and tell them to provide for the family they will create. But now, with women sharing the load - and sometimes taking the lead in resource provision or even choosing to go solo - young malehood seems to be at a crossraods.

I think of this often, especially in context of my ten-year old son whose legs grow ever more lanky and whose jawline sports soft blond fuzz. How will he become a man?

This wondering must be why characters Ben and Clay and Kevin bubble up through my subconscious, demanding to Be.

The writing... a preoccupation these past three weeks. Almost finished GONE, a story I am very proud of because I stretched in so many ways. Polishing my opening of PURE for submission to my writing workshop starting July 25. Working on three HINT FICTION pieces due in August, as well as some garden-inspired poems for another deadline. Also playing around with a non-fiction book proposal on prescription drug abuse...

The reading... Finished MIDDLEMARCH - yay! Am in thrall with a fantastic anthropological study RIGHTEOUS DOPEFIEND by Phillippe Bourgois and Jeff Schonboem which follows homeless heroin addicts in San Francisco. The authors get close and personal with camera and interviews. The writing is phenomenal and very accessible, and the photographs heart-breaking. Finishing up July's debut author write-up - look for it next week - the monthly hump was bumped due to my writing frenzy...

The awards... Shellie of Layers of Thought and fellow blogger from Project 100 sent me a Heartfelt Award. Thanks Shellie - glad you and others feel warm fuzzies in my little blog room. My turn to nominate:

Deborah: Makes the world of writing and riding come alive from the foothills of North Carolina. And she's a damn fine friend to boot.

Paige: Artist, photographer, poet... her blogs are fine places to settle with a glass of wine.

Greta: Fabulous writer - and foodie. Her recipes and prose both make me drool.

Hope: Writing with a dash of humor of lots of compassion.

Peace, Linda


  1. Thanks, Linda, for the post and for the award. I was trying to find a way to work my grilled veggie orzo salad into my latest post, but I ran out of creativity :)

    Interesting, indeed, that you choose to write from the young male POV. The subconscious works in such intriguing ways...

  2. I Thanks for the shout out!

    You have been busy.

    It's a funny thing the POV we choose or that chooses us. No matter how hard I try to convince my Beloved that it's a persona he still says "It will always be you, that's all I can see."

    and speaking of funny you, Greta & Stephen all posted one after the other...musta been a memo I was left out

  3. " does one become a man in this society?"

    What a question, indeed!

  4. Fascinating topic, about manhood and society. How do men become men? They move away from home, start paying bills, assume responsibility for their actions. But women do the same thing, so where's the difference? Hmmm.


  5. I want to read the opening of PURE!!!

    As well as everything else...

  6. I often write from the perspective of a woman. It's one of the things a writer has to learn to do - get inside the heads of anyone: the young, the old, male, female, kind, and evil. I think it shows your strength as a writer that you can write from a young man's perspective.

    It's sad but true that there are some young men coming up who seem to have all ambition and drive sucked right out of them. Saw a lot of that while Em and Sara were in high school. The good news is that there are a lot that also seem to have their heads screwed on right. I take some hope in them. :)

  7. I never thought about male's this way but you have a good point... my man child (17 years old) is like a fish as of late, floundering out of water.

    Lovely blog spot you have here.


  8. I hear you, Linda. I cringe every time I find myself writing another cop character because I really feel its almost too easy. I like slipping into other skins and trying on other pairs of glasses. Still, while I stray away from the comfort zone whenever possible, I don't think I've ever tackled a character who is really "out there" and tough to write as a result.