The Masculine & the Feminine & the Power of our Words

Thursday, October 2nd, 2014

There’s this joke among Spanish-speaking women. I remember my mom laughing as she said it when I was young, in that “it’s-funny-but-what-it-really-is-is-ridiculous” kind of way.

She’d say, “Stand in a room full of 99 women and we say nosotras. But in walks one man and it’s nosotros.”

Because in Spanish, the pronouns are either masculine or feminine. And the masculine, by the presence of even one male, is the default.

I used to not think of it much, or I’d laugh it off in the same way my mom used to. But recently, I actually experienced it. I attended a meeting of what must’ve been at least 40 Latina women gathered in a room, and one man. And throughout the presentation, when a speaker referred to the group as “todas” (everyone: feminine) this person would laugh and correct herself to say “todos” (everyone: masculine) and gesture with a wave of the arm to the one man in the room, as if to say, don’t worry, I haven’t forgotten you.

And I remember thinking how nice it must be to experience such consideration. To be worthy of acknowledgment in a crowded room full of dozens of accomplished human beings simply because of your presence and gender. To be the default and the universal. To be not just included, but to have your inclusion change the dynamics of how everyone refers to themselves.

I remember thinking it wasn’t funny. I remember feeling sad as I already heard people telling me, they’re just words. It’s just a joke. Don’t be so sensitive.

It’s not just in Spanish. Privilege has its own language and it spans cultures and tongues. Even the word causes outrage because no likes to be told they’re privileged, even though we all are, in ways that would surprise us, in ways that we may be blind to but which are glaring to those on the other side of it. Before any of us get defensive, consider that you are reading this on a computer or a mobile device, with access to the internet, which is already more than a huge portion of the human race can count on.

It is all relative, and when things are relative it means we need to step outside of our own perspective to truly understand what’s in front of us.

Nosotras, nosotros. All of us: feminine, all of us: masculine.

All of us: all of us.

Words have power. I wouldn’t be writing, and you wouldn’t be commenting, FBing, tweeting, communicating with them if they didn’t. We say things and the words we choose speak for us, for our culture and our time. To whoever might say I’m being too sensitive, I’d argue we’re not being sensitive enough. How sad that we take for granted the impact of something as powerful as words.

 

Sometimes Writing is Like Dreaming

Thursday, September 11th, 2014

My forest dream is still a dream...A quick post as I slowly ease back into what I hope is a more regular blogging routine.

As I dive back into my next WIP, I keep drawing from the most unexpected places.

Yesterday, I was reading an article that contained an infographic recounting a text conversation between several parties.

A few days before, I was talking to a group of writers about how the cutting boards in my father’s kitchen had caused me to reflect on how signs of our past relationships linger.

Last night, as I brushed my teeth before bed, I had an epiphany about whose point of view parts of the story should be told from.

Of course the work happens on the page, but in moments like these, writing reminds me of dreams. The way they’re random, the way they pluck images and people from the oddest depths of our memories, from thoughts we never paid much attention to. The way we can never predict where they’ll take us.

I finished brushing my teeth, so elated that I ran out to the living room and told my husband who this new narrator is. And then, cheesy as it sounds, I did a happy dance and said, “Storytelling is magical.”

 

 

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A Wish

Wednesday, July 16th, 2014

I know what it looks like.

The book came out and then I disappeared for a month.And even now, I’m just popping my head in for a moment, because I know that even if I try to sum up how incredible these last few weeks have been, words will always fall short.

But I turned 30 yesterday and I’ve been thinking a lot about wishes. Such tiny longings we whisper only within ourselves. We treasure them so much we don’t even say them out loud. And only when they do finally come true might someone tell us, I wished that for you, years and years ago.

This year I found out someone gave their wishes of the past several years to me. I won’t say who or what (I kind of want to keep that my own). But it was magical, and so deeply touching, I wanted to write it down and share it and tell you that I wish the same for you.

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It’s Here. CHASING THE SUN is a book today, out in the world.

Tuesday, June 3rd, 2014

When I got the first, final copies of CHASING THE SUN in the mail a couple of weeks ago, I didn’t share more than a picture of me holding the book, close to my chest.

It was selfish of me, but I wanted that one moment to be mine, so I kept it secret for a few days before posting it on Facebook, Twitter…the usual places. Writing a book is intimate. It’s mornings when the rest of the house is still asleep, minutes we try to steal from each day for a quick hundred or thousand words.

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But today is different, and the fact that reading, too, is intimate is not lost on me. It’s those few minutes before bed, all to yourself with a story. A quick lunch break, an hour or two by the pool on the weekend, spent with the characters (and by extension, the writer).

Today, the book is out there, out of my hands (and arms) and in the homes of others. Thank you for welcoming it, for spending precious time with it, for turning this into an experience I can share with you.

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Chasing the Sun is now available everywhere books are sold: AmazonBarnes & Nobleyour local indie. You can also order a signed, personalized copy from my local bookshop and they’ll ship it to you for just $0.99.

I’m still in awe that this day has finally come. Thank you for being part of the journey with me.

 

The Writing Process Only Stops Working If You Do

Monday, March 31st, 2014

Miss A Writes a SongWriting is such a mystery. How the words flow, where the idea comes from, what makes a character tick…it seems everyone wants to know our big secret. So it seems appropriate that I was tagged in this blog hop by mystery author Lisa Alber, whose debut novel, Kilmoon, launched just a couple of weeks ago. Check out her post on her writing process and see mine below—you’ll see our processes are quite different, which just goes to show: there’s no right or wrong way to do this (you just have to actually do it).

What are you working on?

The first draft of my next book. I’m not quite ready to divulge all the details, but I will say this: it takes place in a Texas border town and deals with life, death, and the nearly impossible task of setting family history straight. Oh, and there are hints of magical realism. (Could I possibly be any more vague?)

How does your work differ from others of its genre?

This is such a hard question to answer about myself; I think these kinds of insights often come from readers, because we are usually too close to our work to see it objectively. One thing that sticks out is that my agent once told me she loved how my work tends to explore relationships. I hadn’t thought of that, but it makes sense: aren’t relationships what it’s all about at the end of the day? None of us exists in a bubble. Our need to interact with other humans is what drives so many of our actions. Chasing the Sun deals with a kidnapping, but it’s really the examination of a relationship under unthinkable circumstances. Stories I’ve written before, and stories I’ve written after, always go back to the connection that exists between two (or more) people.

Why do you write what you do?

It’s how I answer questions I probably couldn’t answer in just one lifetime. It’s how I try to understand things that are beyond my own experience.

How does your writing process work?

Wait…my writing process works? Kidding. Honestly, if I had the answer for that, things would be a lot easier for me. The truth is sometimes my writing process—write first thing in the morning, write a skeleton of a draft, then add texture and substance in revision, and finally edit, edit, edit—doesn’t work. Sometimes I get stuck. Sometimes I question whether I can really finish. The only thing I know about the writing process is that it stops working if you do. So I keep writing through the doubt and the difficulty because I know that eventually (I never know when) the story will come together.

I believe I’m supposed to tag more writers, so I’d like to tag you. Answer these four questions on your own blog and leave the link in the comments. What’s your process like?

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