I have just read a piece by David Hall, called ‘Alienating Alias’ on his blog. An interesting slant on the fringes of the transgender topic, I thought. Perhaps you should read it before you continue, but if you don’t have time, he questions if authors are able to write in the guise of the opposite sex.
My eye opener to the opposite sex was not like his, behind the bike shed, but the long grass of a nearby field where five year-old ‘YSMY’ & ‘ISYM’ (I’ll leave you to work those out for yourselves) soon gave way to ‘Doctors and Nurses’. In those gloriously politically incorrect 1950’s days, doctors were always male and nurses always female, so who were we kids to argue?
But we are talking mostly about physical differences that, give or take, are easily discernible, although there have been some tragic errors of identification in the maternity wards. Even in adulthood there are some peculiarly under- or over-developed bits that might raise an eyebrow but spectacularly fail to raise actual pulsing interest.
It seems to me that when it comes to writing, it is not the ‘bits’ you are sitting on as much as the ‘wits’ between your ears that matter as you thump the keyboard. Just as we are physically constructed in shades of grey, so we are wired in round about ways. Some men are more able to think as women do and some women amaze with male perspective. What makes some men fancy other men or women other women? ‘It’s not just the bits, it’s the mind that controls them’ (That fits into a song quite well...know the one?).
So, to suggest that no man can write like a woman or vice versa doesn’t wash with me. What about George Elliot who was determined not to be a prejudged writer.
I have known ‘men-fancying men’ and ‘women-fancying women’ (I eschew the G word) whose brains are more akin thinking-wise to the very opposite that their body parts suggest. However, there are women whose attention is drawn to opposites and men who are not at all interested physically in other men who are not afraid to demonstrate a side of their thinking that does not accord with their physique.
I wanted to write a chick-lit, I thought. I had never read one and believed they were books written by women for women. I read, correction...glanced at, one or two and decided they could hardly be described as books and the writers barely described as full grown women. Yet what of the readers? Now this is the interesting bit; the ‘books’ I sampled very unscientifically, followed a clear theme, yet could draw a range of readers irrespective of their circumstances. Thus I could see a high-power female executive reading one to drag herself back into contact with her threatened feminine side, while the same undemanding tale could be read by a dumb blonde, just to stay in contact with her dumb side. Just like the ‘man for all seasons’ there are ‘books for all reasons’.
Anyway, I decided that it wasn’t a chick-lit I wanted to write. The terminology had led me astray, just like little Jenny in that field of long grass. I wanted to write a book for the professional woman, whether she be single, divorced, separated, grass widowed, cuckolded or whatever else. I didn’t take a name like Penny Drop, I wanted to stay connected to my burgeoning masculine side, so R.G.Stevens (for Richard Gordon) became Argy Stevens, complete with suitable photograph and that is the name on the cover of ‘Discrete Reversal’....a book for the thinking professional woman. Gratefully, I must record that yesterday to my surprise, she posted a wonderful review, dahling!
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