Home > books, writing group > Diverting from motherhood for a moment

Diverting from motherhood for a moment

I try not to engage in stereotypes. But sometimes, it’s so hard not to.

For instance, my writing class this week. It’s been ages since I took a writing workshop, so I had forgotten that most of the people in these workshops (myself included, I’m sure), fit into fairly standard categories.

There’s the tweedy, intense slightly older guy named William, John, or Richard. He’s got white hair that’s receeded up and over the crown of his head and a beard. He wears work shirts rolled up to his elbows, likes science fiction and has some esoteric but highly disciplined hobby (reading 1,000 page Finnish spiritual poetry, making reproduction Viking boats with handmade tools, restoring WWI airplanes). He’s usually quiet but self assured, a little geeky, and usually one of the nicest people you’ll ever meet. 

There’s the Emo Boy. He’s 20-soemthing, self-conciously hip, there’s usually some unattrtactive facial hair and he’s really ernest. The one this week declared that he’s “lived inside this narrative so long that I really feel like the only way I can present it is from memory.” He was writing hard sci-fi.

There were several variations on the theme of : Woman of a certain age who has bee writing for thrity years and is working on the same novel for most of them.” Most of the major sub-tyoes were also represented — the one who used the f-word and wore heels, the lesbian, the anti-Catholic church second-wave feminist with the dangly earrings who is writing lyrical historical novels. (Yes, that’s a type.)

There’s the almost-but-not-quite successful writer, who’s gotten a few things published (always out of print, always in a niche), who likes to intimidate us all by dropping names of agents and publishers. This time it was a she, but regardless of gender, this person always wears black turtlenecks. It’s astoundingly consistent.

Of course, we had to have the ingenue. A slim blond girl who has never written before, who, when she spoke, always seemed on the verge of bursting into tears. She gasped about how she wanted to write a memoir, but she would feel too naked, too exposed (here, she clutched her cashmere cardigan around her tiny breasts) to write so directly about her experieinces, so she chose to fictionalize it. Her hands trembled, her lip quivered, she read in a tremulous voice. All the middle aged women rushed to reassure her that she was doing fine, she was an excellent writer. (She wasn’t.)

And finally, our Papa. The just-past-middle-aged, self-conciously brusque man who writes masculine, muscular men’s prose, usually about some war. In this case it was about a specific division of WWII soldiers. For some reason, they use too many adjectives. 

And I suppose there was me: overweight young mom writing trashy genre. I’ve never met another like me, but I can’t imagine that I’m all that unusual. Maybe I’m writing urban fantasy instead of bodice rippers, but there’s not much to chose between the two, when you step back. Because, let’s face it, in a lot of cases, it’s just porn for women. (One of the women said, with just the very slightest edge to her voice, “What’s your intended audience for this?” and was shocked, shocked I say, when I replied: “Urban fantasy has a huge following of twenty and thrity something women.” I didn’t add, “who regularly put their favorite authors on the best sellers list, even in hard back.”)

I know I sound snarky. I was a little snarky in my head. I’m sure as I get to know them, they will turn from types into people. But in the brief exposure I had last night, they were just all perfect examples of the types I remember from my collegiate and post-collegiate writing days. The only instance where I think I’ll have any trouble overcoming the stereotype is the trembling ingenue. 

In the meantime, i’ve almost finished rereading my novel. It’s actually fun! It’s been almost three years so I’m coming to it totally fresh and I can see where I need to make changes. I’m not sure how to make those changes, but that’s what this workshop is for.

Though I do wonder what all of those non-sci-fi types thought of my first two pages.

Categories: books, writing group
  1. C'tina
    October 25, 2008 at 3:08 am

    http://marcys.wordpress.com/ hope you don’t mind to check her out.

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