Blogging and Thinking, and Thinking Like a Man
I’m supposed to pass it on to 5 bloggers who make me think. I know, I know – many of these people have been awarded this already. I think that’s okay. And there are many more of you who make me think, but the rules say I only get five.
First, we have Ms. Courtney Milan. CM makes me think often. Even more often, she makes me think about giving up thinking entirely, outsourcing all of my thinking to her, and taking up crochet instead. Her recent post on entails is just one of many gems on that blog.
With this completely innocuous post at Romance Vagabonds, Elodie made me think about someone I hadn’t thought about in a while. Someone I miss. Someone I wish I’d known better. Someone the world is a little more flat without.
And lastly, to throw some karma back at her, Lacey’s post this week about taking opportunities and (gasp!) asking for good things got me thinking a lot.
It reminded me of this article that a (non romance-reader) friend sent me the week before I went to NYC. It’s by author Lionel Shriver (a woman), who was nominated for the Orange (a prestigious literary prize), and shocked the world – or at least a few reporters – by owning up to the fact that she wanted to win.
Excerpted from Ms. Shriver’s article:
Throughout the whole Orange prize experience I was confronted with evidence that women are uncomfortable with naked ambition, trained to have low expectations, embarrassed by head-to-head competition, and virtually obliged to act abashed when they win. In contrast to a certain other sex that will go unmentioned. …
The closer zero hour approached, the more powerfully I felt impelled to anticipate that I would lose. Other women I’ve consulted who have been in similar positions – say, up for a job they badly wanted – report the same knee-jerk preparation for failure. The logic seems to run that if you anticipate disappointment, you will soften the blow when it comes, or perhaps sweeten victory, so unexpected. Thus in the run-up to last Tuesday’s ceremony I found myself typing in emails to friends, “In the unlikely event that I win … “…
Giving interviews afterwards, I was asked more than once, “When you won, were you surprised?” By then I was getting impatient with my own girly impulses. “No,” I said. And then I made a wrong answer worse by adding, “It’s a good book.” … [M]en who win big literary prizes are rarely asked if they are “surprised”, much less required to be. On TV, I watched Alan Hollinghurst win the Booker for The Line of Beauty last autumn, and his lengthy acceptance speech was clearly prepared. I doubt that any journalist asked him afterwards if he was surprised.
…For centuries, women have not allowed themselves to expect to get what they want if only because they were more or less guaranteed to be denied it. Old habits die hard.
This really struck a chord with me. Not because I’ll ever be nominated for the Orange or any similar award. But because I, like many women, feel uneasy about openly displaying and acting on ambition. I’m not certain how much of this unease is attributable to my gender and how much is just inherent in my rather introverted personality … but it made me think. Perhaps I should start thinking like a man.
And then I started thinking, but what I love most about romance is that it’s a genre almost exclusively written by women, for women. It celebrates things that are important to women – love, sex, family, personal growth. Naked, raw ambition is often antithetical to the underpinnings of romance – a close sympathy for the feelings of others, a desire to make things end happily for all. If I start thinking like a man, the question becomes … will I still write good romance?
Something tells me I need to learn not how to think like a man, but how to think like an ambitious, goal-oriented yet sensitive woman. That middle-ground must exist, right?
What do you think?