Category Archives: musings

Gen X Vs. the World

I didn’t learn the term “latchkey” until I was much older and it no longer applied. As articles pop up around the Internet, all mentioning Gen X’s adaptability in the face of self-quarantining, they all also seem to think we had absent parents and more or less raised ourselves.

My parents worked, but they weren’t absent. As an only child, I spent a lot of time with my parents, especially on the weekends. Even if it was just going to the store or hitting up Burger King, we did a lot together. I never felt neglected. I was never sad to come home after school and have to let myself in (except on days when I’d forgotten my key). If anything, it was a relief to me to have the whole place to myself. After a day of social pressures at school, time without interaction was sacrosanct.

Maybe that’s just because I’m an introvert and need alone time to recharge my batteries. So, yeah, being asked to stay home now doesn’t feel like any massive hardship to me. We’ve got a house and yard and are making the most of them. (Thank goodness, though, that we moved into the bigger house last year, because if we were in the old house right now, we’d be strangling one another.)

I grew up able to entertain myself, both with and without a screen. Sure, I had Speak & Spell. But I also had books. Colorforms. I made up one-player versions of board games for myself. I had My Little Pony. I wrote stories. I went out and rode my bike or roller skated. Coloring books. I had learned to cross stitch. And if all else failed, I knew how to sit and think. I did not require constant input or attention.

Again, I don’t know if that’s a Gen X thing, or just a personal thing, or some blend of the two. I knew some kids who went home to empty houses and just as many that didn’t. I knew kids who seemed to need stimulation and an audience and just as many who were content to be overlooked. (I was somewhere in the middle, and still am—I like recognition, loved being acknowledged by my teachers, for instance, and now love the same from readers and peers, but I don’t need an unwavering spotlight.) We are, like any generation, or any large group of people, a mishmash of personalities. The things we experienced broadly were like the outer planets in an astrology chart—everyone shares those aspects because those planets move slowly. But our individual experiences were varied. For example, a favorite statistic for the Gen X kids is how many kids’ parents were divorced. And I knew a few people with divorced parents. But mine weren’t, and neither were many of my friends’. So… I was aware of single-parent households but had no real experience with them outside visiting friends who lived with only one parent. I don’t recall thinking it was weird or anything. It just was.

And maybe that’s Gen X in a nutshell. Things just are, and we accept those things and get on with life. “You do what you gotta do” is probably our motto. If I had to come home to an empty house, do my chores and homework, and get dinner started, that’s what I did. It never occurred to me to not do those things if they needed to be done. Rebel I was not, at least on that front. I picked my battles for the things that mattered most to me. Getting out of housework didn’t rank all that high, and I never minded contributing my time and effort to the family. I might not love chores, but they weren’t difficult, and I could entertain myself while doing them. I could think or sing or write stories in my head. No big deal.

Still, when it came time to choose whether my kids would come home to an empty house or not, I gave up working in publishing and stayed home. In part because publishing didn’t pay enough to cover child care costs, so I might as well stay home anyway. And in part because staying home gave me the chance not only to be there for my kids as they grow but to pursue my writing. So there are practical reasons and selfish reasons for the decision, as well as the desire to be the one to raise my kids and not miss out on those years. I like the idea I’m making memories for and with them.

Because, while I do have good memories of times with my parents, they are all a bit foggy and vague, too. Gen X tended to make memories with their peers more than parents or family. And sure, I want my kids to have fun with their friends. And I want them to be able to go to their rooms and entertain themselves (without the computer, iPad, or phone). I’m raising them with slightly less benign neglect as I was used to, but only slightly. Because I do want them to be independent and self-sufficient. I want them to figure things out on their own. But I also want them to know that coming to me in an emergency is an option. Which is maybe what Gen X couldn’t count on in our youth. Not necessarily because our parents didn’t care (I know some would say they didn’t, but I believe my parents did), but because I couldn’t just text them if something happened, and what could they do from across town anyway? Still, I lived in a neighborhood where I knew who was home and who I could count on if it came to that. That’s not so much a given anymore. And I always counted on myself first and foremost. Not out of pride. More out of an aversion to causing trouble for others. Out of the idea that figuring it out myself was a better option than going next door and bothering Mr. Kirkpatrick. I think I would have had to be close to dying before I’d have done that.

Where was I going with all this? I don’t know. After reading articles about how this is Gen X’s big moment, I just think: eh. Quarantine is maybe easier for us because we are so adaptable, and so many of us self-isolate anyway. But maybe that’s just true of introverts in general. Then again, being self-sufficient and figuring out how to do things when the usual ways don’t work seems to be in our nature. We’re problem solvers and innovators. And we know how to keep ourselves entertained, with or without technology. Damn, I wish I still had my roller skates…

Life in the Fish Bowl

Some of you may know I live in the San Francisco Bay area. As of midnight Tuesday, we have been ordered to shelter in place. This means no leaving the house except for anything “essential.” Medical needs, groceries… putting gas in your car… And we were given leave to pick up necessary items at the schools so the kids could continue learning at home.

It seems to me that, even though the order as written delineates “essential” fairly clearly, people apparently have their own ideas. I was surprised at how many people were out and about yesterday, on foot and in cars. Well, our town has about 90,000 residents, so I guess if even 10% of them need groceries or have medical appointments, that puts a good number of people on the roads. And so many people in our neighborhood have dogs that need walking. We’ve been told we can take walks so long as we stay 6+ feet away from anyone else out for a walk.

Fortunately, we have a spacious back yard. If the weather would cooperate, we could swim, at least. Our pool guy says the chemicals in the pool kill the virus. I don’t know if that’s true, but it’d be nice to be able to swim anyway.

I’m learning to homeschool. We have a schedule, and we’re finessing it as we go so that it becomes something we can all work and live with. No screens for the first half of the day. We read, play board games, practice music, draw—anything that doesn’t require a screen is fair. Kids are allowed to do online school work after lunch and then have free time once that work is done. We also have morning and afternoon outdoor/exercise time. (With the rain the “outdoor” part has been spotty.)

Thank goodness, too, for the Internet. Could you imagine all this 20 or so years ago? (If you’re old enough, that is.) Yesterday I was at least able to order some cross stitching supplies to keep myself busy over the next few weeks. The shelter-in-place order is through at least April 7. The kids don’t go back to school until April 14 at the earliest, and now I’m hearing probably not even then. So much of this is waiting and seeing, and so much of it depends on people’s behaviors. People are unpredictable and don’t behave rationally, so when things depend on them doing so, well… Don’t bet on it turning out well.

Every morning, even before we were all home and this was our new life and routine, I go through the house and open the blinds to let in the light. Now, when I do so, I feel like I’m in a fish bowl, and like the house around us are other fish bowls, and we’re all just fish, swimming in circles in our little spaces…

You’d think I’d get more reading done, or more writing, but the opposite is true. Having to manage everyone else’s schedules and needs means less time for myself. That is the frustrating bit. As an introvert who requires a lot of alone time in order to recharge, being in a house full of people means my battery wears down very fast and I don’t get plugged in all that often. I could take the easy route and let the kids disappear to their rooms and spend all their time online, but no. I won’t be that parent. I’ll adjust. We all will. We’ll make this work, somehow, for all of us.

How Sick Am I?

It’s time for everybody’s favorite game! How Sick Am I?!

It’s an honest question, actually. Each year around this time my sinuses get stuffed up. Then the drainage gives me a cough and causes me to lose my voice (or at the very least I begin to croak like a frog rather than speak). Sometimes things progress to bronchitis or pneumonia. That happened pretty much every year in Massachusetts, though since moving to California I’ve only had pneumonia once and bronchitis not at all. (Knocking on the wood of my desk now.)

Of course, these days having a stuffy head and cough can mean much worse.

In October of 2009 I had H1N1. Whatever I have now, it’s not nearly as bad as that. But can I use an almost decade-old experience as any kind of measure? I can really only go by the fact that these things happen to me every spring, and I have no fever. At the same time, not wishing to expose anyone to anything just in case, I’m largely self-quarantining. I’m fortunate that I already work at home. My husband’s company has likewise ordered people who can work from home to do so. (He can, and therefore he is.)

Our schools have not closed, though they have canceled all extracurriculars. A shame, since there were a number of things on the schedule. I was even supposed to help with a field trip next week… I guess if I’m still sniffly, it’s probably just as well not to go. But the high school orientation was scheduled for next week, too, and now I’m guessing that will be postponed. Sigh.

Illness is inconvenient, to be sure. I’m grateful that, as of now, it isn’t anything more drastic. An ounce of prevention and all that.

As for me, it’s always annoying to have the stuffy head and the lingering cough. I hate that I can’t sing along to music in the car cuz my voice is almost gone. But I know it could be so much worse, so I’m grateful that I’m upright and functioning. Now if only I could get this book written, I’d be golden.

Hidden Scars

I have focal nodular hyperplasia (FNH). This is a very long way of saying I have benign tumors in my liver. They aren’t cancerous, or pre-cancerous, but they can be a literal pain.

My diagnosis came in 2002 and quite by accident. I’d gone in for a CAT scan for another issue and the FNH was simultaneously revealed. My doctor at the time immediately took me off birth control because she suspected the hormones were causing the problem. After some monitoring (read: MRIs every few months), it was determined that the nodules weren’t growing, so all was well. (If the tumors get too big, or block anything important, they have to be removed.)

There was some concern when I got pregnant that the FNH might become more serious. Oddly enough, I had no problems when pregnant with either of my boys, but the pain returned when I was carrying my daughter. Different hormones, I guess?

And now, just recently, the pain reared its ugly head again. I’ve since moved across the country and whatnot, so it took some explaining to my current doctor. When I went in today, she of course took a look and at first didn’t believe me when I told her that, no, I haven’t had a gallbladder since 2010. Because she couldn’t find the scars.

Gallbladder issues run in my family, but it’s also very common for women who’ve given birth to have gallstones. One of those things they don’t tell you before you decide to have kids. A year after my third and final child, it was discovered I was, as the ultrasound diagnostician put it, “full of stones.” So a very dour but incredibly skilled surgeon from South Africa removed my gallbladder. There are four tiny, nigh invisible, scars. (More visible in summer when my skin goes toasty.)

Anyway, there’s something wonderful about witnessing one medical professional admiring another’s work. Once my doctor did finally spot the gallbladder scars, she was highly impressed. If only I could take the credit, but I can only say I’ve been fortunate in my choices of health care providers—fortunate, that is, in whom I’ve been able to choose because this system is the pits.

As for the FNH, I’m due for an ultrasound next week. We’ll see if those nodules, lesions, tumors–whatever they decide to call them–are misbehaving. As I age and the chemicals in my body change, well… I can’t say I’m a fan. BUT. I’m still here, right? All these changes, no matter the inconvenience, are better than the alternative.

No Hope for the Self-Pubbed

Yesterday I was told that, since I have already self-published my work, I will never be picked up by an agent or have a traditional publishing deal. Not just for the books that I’ve self-published, but ever. Because the only self-published authors that get agents are ones who sell a zillion copies of their stuff, thus proving it’s market worthy. In other words, only the self-published authors who don’t need agents ever get them.

My books are of solid quality. I know this thanks to (a) good reviews from professional sources, and (b) feedback from agents. The “problem” with my books is that I write stuff that doesn’t fit neatly into any one genre* and/or stuff in unpopular genres. Basically, what I’ve been told by agents is that, while my work is good, it’s not marketable.

Which is why, I suppose, I don’t sell a zillion copies.

And therefore I will never get an agent or a big publishing deal for anything I write, no matter how good it is or how marketable it may actually be.

This is what I’ve been told. By traditionally published authors, mind. Maybe I should ask an actual agent? Pretty much every one that I’ve submitted to has told me to try them again with other works. I used to think they were just being polite, but I later heard at a conference panel that, no, that’s a line they only add to their rejection letters when they mean it. Which should mean, just maybe, that even if I self-published that book, they might still be interested in something new by me?

Publishing seems to be contracting and expanding in strange ways. There are more authors than ever, more books out there than ever, and yet fewer and fewer authors seem to be able to get agents and traditional publishing deals. Or maybe it just seems that way when one stacks traditional authors next to all the indies. But it does feel like agents and publishers are actually narrowing their focuses rather than widening. They seem to be less comfortable taking a chance on someone new. (Just like movie studios these days, leaning heavily on known IP rather than being willing to try anything original.)

It seems like certain genres do well in the indie market (romance, thrillers). Well, that’s also like indie films, isn’t it? Indie drama is pretty common, but how many indie action movies are there? Not many (if any) because indie filmmakers can’t usually afford to make a big budget film. At least with books the cost is more or less the same regardless of genre. It’s the ability to reach the various markets that causes some indie genres to stall, I think. Romance and thriller readers are typically voracious and will pick up a wide variety of titles in their preferred genres. More literary reader, though… are harder to reach via indie outlets. Underserved markets are more willing to go indie, assuming they can find your books in the piles of content out there. (Hey, if you like historical fantasy gay romance, try Faebourne! Yeah, again, my oddly specific books keep agents from picking them or me up…)

I guess the question eventually becomes: Do I want an agent and traditional publishing deal? And the answer is: I’d like the option. Maybe it’s that old need for validation, but… Yeah. I’d like an offer someday. At the same time, I won’t waste too much time chasing agents. Because I might like to have an agent, but I’ve learned I don’t have to have one to be happy or satisfied with my work.

Random

Today I got frustrated and angry because someone bought my ebook and then returned it. Look, I understand that if you click “buy” on accident, or if you get a few pages in and decide it’s not for you (read the sample first!), but this person had the book for at least a week because s/he bought it at full price, and it’s now on sale. That means they could very likely have bought it, read it, and returned it. Which is a crap thing to do to an author. Especially an indie author. Publishing houses have lots of money to back them; a return or two won’t hurt. But us little guys (and gals)… Someone told me they thought Amazon had a policy that didn’t allow returns on ebooks if the reader goes past a certain percentage? Is that true? Last time I looked (and it’s been a while), it wasn’t, but maybe Amazon got smart? Then again, Amazon seems never to have been on the side of the authors.

Anyway, to distance myself from my woes and irritation, I decided to distract myself by cataloguing my various tarot and oracle decks. Final tallies:

  • 39 tarot decks
  • 7 Lenormand decks
  • 15 oracle decks
  • 9 “other”

I posted a new tarot video to YouTube, too, so please go take a look, Like, and Subscribe! Maybe I’ll do this instead of writing. (I do private readings for those who are interested. You can’t return them for a refund, though!)

The Star Wars Sequel Trilogy

Okay, so I’ve had some time to sort of mull this whole thing over, and while my feelings are still complicated, I do at least have some overall thoughts about those last three Star Wars movies. Keep in mind that this is all purely subjective. In fact, this post is as much for myself as anyone, as writing helps me suss my thoughts.

I really enjoyed The Force Awakens. Yes, I knew as I watched it that it was pretty much, beat for beat, a retread of Episode IV. But I didn’t care. At the time, I was so excited to have a new Star Wars movie—one that was so much better than those prequels (which I haven’t been able to bring myself to watch again since seeing them in the cinema)—that I was probably primed to like it no matter what. But I loved the new characters, the dynamics that were being built. We took our kids to it, and at the final scene my daughter (who was seven) asked, “Who is that?” And with tears in my eyes, I said, “That’s Luke Skywalker, baby.” So, yeah, I was all in. I saw the film three times in the cinema and have rewatched it several times at home.

Sure, later on I had to wonder at Rey’s sudden ability to beat Kylo. I pretty much had the idea she had to be Luke’s daughter, ferried away to keep her safe or something, and I know I’m not the only one to lean that way. But whatever. I was open to whatever was to come next.

I had more complicated feelings about The Last Jedi. There was a lot I liked about it (mostly Kylo/Rey stuff) and just as much that I didn’t (the moments of humor felt misplaced to me). I was a bit confused by Luke’s final stand or whatever, not sure why he had to die except that mentor characters always have to die, I guess. I had no problem with the introduction of Rose and still don’t entirely understand the ire people have toward her, or toward the movie as a whole, except for misogyny and racism in general? I’ll admit that after the first viewing, I didn’t think I liked this movie, either, though I couldn’t immediately say why. However, I also saw this one three times in the cinema, and came to like it more and more. It is, for me, about on par with TFA, or I may even like it slightly more simply because it definitely feels more original.

Ah, but then The Rise of Skywalker happened. And I just… can’t. I can’t with this movie. I think what I can’t get over is the return of Palpatine. The groundwork wasn’t laid for it, so it feels just so improbable. And the sending out of a message? And the idea that Snoke “worked for” Palpatine or some such? None of it makes sense. The killing and immediate resurrection of main characters cheapens everything. It doesn’t feel like there are any stakes because Rey has already managed to defeat Kylo many times, and characters don’t stay dead, so… ??? Do I like that Kylo is redeemed? The fangirl in me adores the character of Kylo Ren. He’s easily the most interesting, most developed character in these films because he’s the only one given deep-seated conflict. Yes, he behaves like an angry emo child. But that’s at least interesting. And I’m a Reylo fangirl, so…

And yet. Here’s where we get into the world of fandom vs. canon. Let me just say I studied fandom psychology as an undergrad. But that was in a pre-social media world (yes, I’m that old). Fans didn’t really have a hope to influence creators because they didn’t have that kind of access to filmmakers. So wish fulfillment for fans came in the form of fan fiction. And that was fine. We all understood that we could make up our own stories and enjoy the characters in our own ways and the creators could do what they were going to do, which we may or may not love, but we didn’t really get too upset about because we had our own outlets for rewriting things the way we wanted. But now fans feel entitled, it seems, to certain outcomes. And they do get angry when things don’t go they way they want. Fans want to write the scripts. And that’s just ridiculous.

But it does seem to me that creators do sometimes give in to that pressure. So I feel like Kylo’s (Ben’s, if you prefer) redemption and that Reylo kiss was definitely a bow to fans. I swooned, of course, but was it the best direction for the story? I do have some doubts about that. (I think it would have been more coherent to follow Ben Solo/Kylo Ren as the main character of these films, probably because I do still find him to have the most interesting arc, but that’s just me, and didn’t we just talk about fans trying to steer the ship?)

For me TROS ruined things. I was all in until this film. I can forgive a lot, but this one just had too many problems for me. The sudden excising of Rose’s character, the insertion of random other females as if to be sure the Finn/Poe fans didn’t get their way—it just felt too disjointed from what came before. It felt, as I’ve said previously, like Abrams and Johnson were in a tug-of-war instead of building on each other’s works to create a cohesive whole. If you tell two architects to build a building that consists of three wings—Architect 1 gets wings 1 and 3 and Architect 2 does the middle bit—but don’t give them more guidance than that, the final structure might not end up looking quite right. Particularly if Architect 1 had stuff he expected wing 2 to have but Architect 2 does his own thing? They need to work together for the design to mesh.

I only saw TROS once in the cinema. I know I probably need to see it at least one more time to resolve some of my feelings about it. I mean, I think I could at least sit through it again, which is more than I can say about the prequels. But at the end of the day, the sequel trilogy was, for me, a game of diminishing returns. I enjoyed the first, most of the second, and almost none of the third.

So much of today’s biggest series start strong and founder because no one has a big picture vision, or if they do, they allow outside influences to alter it and therefore undermine what’s being built. We need showrunners/creators that don’t just have a great idea but also have the ability to follow through (or the willingness to delegate rather than control issues). And while fans have a right to their opinions, I don’t think they should demand that things go a certain way to satisfy their particular desires. Yes, even though you think you could do it better or your idea is the best. That’s what fan fiction is for. Leave the creators alone.

20 Years?!

I was looking over my writing résumé (because I wanted to add the re-release of Peter) and I was astounded to realize I’ve been writing and publishing for 20 years now. And that doesn’t even include the times my fan fiction was published in zines, which happened well before my original work saw the light of day.

You can find a comprehensive list of my work on this site, if in parts, by clicking on “Extended Bibliography” in the menu. But for more immediate purposes, I’ll also post it here as shown on my résumé:

  • The Fall and Rise of Peter Stoller (re-release, January 2020)
  • “Origami of the Heart” (East of the Web, December 2019)
  • “The Zodiac Clock” (December 2018)
  • Faebourne (October 2018)
  • Brynnde (audiobook, June 2018)
  • “A Good Washing and One Nice Dress” in Fairy Tales and Folktales Re-imagined (Between the Lines Publishing, November 2017)
  • “Professor Moriarty and the Demented Detective” (November 2017)
  • The New Sherlock Holmes Adventures (audiobook, May 2017)
  • Brynnde (February 2017)
  • Changers: Manifesting Destiny (Evernight Teen, August 2016)
  • “Aptera” in Aurora Wolf (June 2016)
  • The Fall and Rise of Peter Stoller (Tirgearr Publishing, January 2016)
  • “Sherlock Holmes and the Monumental Horror” (July 2015)
  • The K-Pro (March 2013)
  • The World Ends at Five and Other Stories, 2nd Edition (November 2012)
  • “Sherlock Holmes and the Adventure of Ichabod Reed” (September 2012)
  • “Sherlock Holmes and the Mystery of the Last Line” (July 2012)
  • St. Peter in Chains (June 2012)
  • The World Ends at Five and Other Stories (2008)
  • “A.B.C.” in Futures Mysterious Anthology Magazine (Fall 2004)
  • “There Was an Old Woman…” in Rosebud Magazine (April 2004)
  • “Haiku 101” in The Aurorean (March 2004)
  • “A Day in the Life of a Moderately Successful Writer” and “The Snake” in Dingbat #4 (Emerson College, 2000)

Of course, not all these can be found or are still available. But it’s 20 solid years of work nonetheless, though there are gaps. I often think of 2012 as the true start of my “writing career” (such as it is), but I had several things before then. Including poetry! Yeesh.

20 years in 2020. Wow. Thanks to all of you who have bought, read, reviewed, and overall supported me and my work all these years. It’s been a blessing to have the opportunity to write and publish.

It’s Early But…

I don’t anticipate much happening between now and the end of the year. Which means 2019 was a singularly unproductive year for me in terms of writing. I wrote one story that I have yet to place anywhere. (Lots of places still considering it… Here’s hoping it finds a home.) That means I didn’t publish anything this year. And I’m really no closer to finishing or publishing anything any time soon, either.

What I did accomplish this year: a house move + renovations. That ate up a lot of time and energy. Plus a new routine with the kids as now they are going to three different schools which means juggling a lot of drop-offs and pick-ups. We had a big family vacation, too. And we adopted two rats (one of which passed away) and a python. For the record, that leaves our menagerie at two cats, a rat, and a snake.

In short, my life is largely focused on the domestic these days. On the up side, I read a ton of books this year. My goal was 18, and I’m at something like 76. Of course, a lot of those were manga, but I regret nothing.

I was looking at my personal year for next year. For those who don’t know what that means, in numerology one can calculate a Life Path number using one’s birthdate and then a yearly number using the month and day of your birth plus the year. My Life Path number is 6 and my personal year number for 2020 is also 6, so that should be interesting. A 6 year focuses on (again, some more) domestic concerns. Which means I may not do much writing next year either… If you’re curious about your personal year or Life Path numbers, there are many different calculators online to help you. Just Google “personal year calculator” or “life path number calculator.” It’s entertaining if nothing else.

Yeah, in terms of my “career” 2019 feels like a waste. But I moved myself and my family into a better overall situation, so I think that’s totally worth it. Next year I have a couple vacations to look forward to, and any house stuff will be relatively small by comparison. And while the first half of the year will be more of the crazy juggling of kids’ schedules, the next school year should be much more manageable. The kids will still be at three different schools, but at least one of those schools will be much closer to home, meaning all three schools will be within a 10-minute drive. (Right now, one school is 20 minutes away, meaning I’m in the car at least 80 minutes a day, not counting any other driving.)

The only thing I’m really hoping for as far as my writing goes is to find a place for this story. If all else fails, I suppose I can self-publish it… Maybe combine it with a couple other stories for a mini anthology. Sometimes stories seem more doable than bigger works, though I’ve always found short pieces harder to write in general. Maybe this will be a good exercise for me and help me hone my skill. Who knows? In any case, I don’t plan to push things. Forced writing is usually not very good. Here’s hoping my muse finds my new address soon so we can get back together and get to work.

Getting Genders “Wrong” in Writing

I saw a pair of Twitter polls today about “What do you think male writers get wrong when writing female characters?” and vice versa. The responses were multitudinous as might be expected. But the question is flawed, I think. It’s generalized, both in its assumption of writers being bad at writing opposite genders and in the assumption that each gender has a “correct” way of being written.

For example, many of the responses about men writing women were about the writers’ focus on breasts. I’ll admit I’ve seen my share of really bad writing when it comes to female character description. But it occurred to me, when reading these answers, that writers come from two different places when forming characters. When dealing with one’s own gender, we come from a place of experience… and sometimes a bit of wish fulfillment, which is why so many women write kick-ass heroines. But when writing the opposite gender, authors are usually coming from a place of desire: an idealization of what we want that opposite gender to be. It’s not quite the same as wish fulfillment, since it’s not about what we, the author, want to be. Though in romances, uniting that couple is often a wish fulfillment of finding and landing the ideal partner.

This is assuming these authors are heterosexual, mind.

The truth is, however, that both male and female authors can write bad characters—of either gender. Whether it’s because the character is just eye candy and has a cardboard personality, whether it’s because the character is abusive yet held up as desirable, whether it’s bad dialogue or unrealistic behavior… And at the same time, we have to remember that men don’t only behave one way, nor do women. So to say, “Men write women who are too much like men”… Well, yes. I’ve seen that too. But there are women in the world who are masculine in demeanor. Now, if every woman in a book is that way, I’d say there’s a problem. But one or two? ::shrug::

I also read a complaint that the male:female ratio is often imbalanced. Well, I think that has a lot to do with perceived audience for a book. Books marketed to men will usually have more male characters, and books aimed at women will have more female characters. That said, I’m certainly guilty of writing more men than women. I’ve often asked myself why I do that, but I’ve yet to find a reason.

I’ve read novels by women who make all their sex-positive female characters into villains. Do they know they’re doing that? Men write them as sluts, women write them as evil sluts?

I guess my point is that, while I can understand the notion that one gender can struggle to write the other well, I think each gender can equally struggle to write itself well, too. Characterization can be difficult regardless of writers’ or characters’ genders. Add to that the fact that there is no “correct” way to characterize a gender because we’re all individuals… Yes, I understand the outrage when men write women as only sex objects, but those men are usually bad writers all around. And I’ve read books by women who write men as mere sex objects as well, so… Again, so long as not every character of a certain gender is written this way… Though, if they are, it says a lot about that writer and his or her lack of skill. But it only speaks for that writer, not for an entire gender of writers. Just because a few men write women badly, or vice versa, doesn’t mean “men” make mistakes when writing women. Or vice versa.