A Man Writes from a Woman’s Point of View
by Jack Remick
Gabriela and The Widow is the third novel I’ve written with women protagonists. Early on, I worked out a post-apocalyptic novel called Citadel and later I came up with Lemon Custard. I got some static about Lemon Custard for not pulling a Nora Helmer (from A Doll’s House) and turning Olive, my protagonist, into some kind of liberation heroine. But Olive is a regular woman with kids trying to find a way to make it when the odds roll against her. Gabriela is a different kind of woman. She’s been hurt, displaced, damaged. Writing from her POV was a challenge.
I think that men are uneasy writing in a woman’s voice but I find it provoking and rewarding. The challenges are enormous because we’re always bugged by the limiting specter of American Realism in the literary novel: Write what you know. If you haven’t lived it, you can’t write about it.
This tells us that because I’m not a woman I can’t write either for women or about women. Realism is a trap I won’t fall into even when I get the question that drives me nuts: Did this really happen?
Look at me—I’m six feet tall, weigh 190, wear cowboy boots and ride a Harley. Do I look like a 19 year old Mexican woman? No, it didn’t happen to me and it’s not based on a “True Story”. This is fiction. I love to create good women who stand toe to toe with good men. Reality belongs in a memoir. In fiction, it’s about emotion.
Fear, Love, Anger, Grief, Joy, Surprise. If you want to write human characters and bring down everything we are onto the written page, and if you want to reach into the minds and senses of readers, you give the reader what the characters feel and project. Men feel fear. Women show surprise. Women get angry, men do too. We all have the same emotions. In writing, it’s reaction that gives you character and character has nothing to do with gender.
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Genre – Women’s Fiction
Rating – PG
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7th November – Excerpt at Paws on Books
14th November – Guest Post at eInk Reviews