Gender Writing

Symbols

Have you ever had the challenge of trying to write in the voice of one of the opposite gender?  Would it pass the litmus test? Would your readers of that gender agree that you successfully pulled it off?

Women are often more emotional and men seem to subdue what they are feeling. It is the writer’s task to really try to capture that other voice.

Here are some things that have helped me to write about the other half.  I listen to their conversations and notice how they think.  Ask yourself what do they think about?  What holds their interests?  How do they handle their emotions?

After you have tried to write in the other gender’s voice, how do you know if you sounded authentic? Perhaps, have someone of that gender read your work and see if automatic discussions arise which means you were believable.

Try reading more works written by the other gender. This will give you more insight into what intrigues and mystifies them.

I must admit that I have been guilty of reading works, mostly written my women.  I caught myself because one of my main characters is male and I really need to make sure that what he is thinking and feeling sounds masculine.

Recently, I read a book called Saffire by Sigmund Brouwer.  It dealt with the building of the Panama Canal and it was obvious that this author was fascinated by this project.  He talked about the massive movement of the concrete pieces, the multiple teams of men and the management of it all. The many political power plays dominated his thought and he even added a zing of romance to the formula.

I  gathered that Brouwer was highly interested in domination and power and the possible rebellions against the foreigners on the land. This canal connected the Atlantic and Pacific oceans and whoever controlled the canal, controlled the world.

Have you ever seen men looking at others work at a construction site?  I have seen them spend their entire lunch time watching the process of building.  Think about that.  Go where the men hang out, if you are a female writer and you will learn more about how they think, what they discuss and what holds their interests.

Then you may be able to crawl inside their heads long enough to develop that character from the other gender.  Eudora Welty said, “To imagine yourself inside of another person is what a storyteller does in every piece of work.”  

La bonne écriture!

Lynn M.                                                                                                                    March 11, 2017

Cruising!

relax

Have you ever been down into gravely thinking?

Have you ever felt that you were wrapped in a dark cocoon that emitted little light? 

Or perhaps, you have been impatient with a friend or relative who’s been  feeling low.

Either way, remember that only thinking makes it so.   It makes it seem so real that the darkness can permeate your entire being and high hopes appear to be a mere dream.

What do you do?  What can you do?

  • First, arise.  As the saying goes, rise up in your thinking. 
  • Lift up your thoughts like a space shuttle shooting towards the sky.
  • Brush yourself off.  Put on a special garment or hat to spruce up your spirits.
  • Go for a walk and let the air blow the cobwebs out of  your mind.
  • Have a good meal.  You really do think clearer on a full tummy.
  • And for sure, put on some of your favorite music.

Maurice White of Earth, Wind and Fire said, “I see music as medicine.”

And guess what?  Your thoughts will stand as tall as the rooks on a chessboard and they will sustain you, support you and spring you to new heights.  They will become your high priests and before long, you will be able to cruise right over that mountain!

Lynn M.                                                                              March 4, 2017

Motifs!

waterfall-2

Turn on the words and let them flow,
Just like a fountain spilling low.

Let them all splatter on the floor,
Mop them up and there will be more.

Pressing images on the mind,
Through messages, one at the time.

Readers run with a net and gloat,
Packing them in a bag and float.

Travel through words and motifs sent,
To worlds of painted enchantment!

Lynn M.                                                                                                             February 25, 2017

A Writer’s Task

Cherry Monte Blanc

Can you write about a place that you visited and make the readers feel as if they traveled along?

Can you make them see the places, the trees and the shapes of the buildings?

Do they feel the warmth of the sun or the depression brought on by the overcast clouds?

Can they taste that hot baked cod-fish that was just served by the stately waiter?

Do they enjoy the laughter of the children that are playing on the beach?  

Did they also see the sizes of the sand castles?

Will they feel like a small turtle that was secretly hidden in your luggage that enjoyed every nuance of the trip?

Will they want to book a flight so that they too can see, feel, hear, touch and smell the aromas of that place?

Or, will they feel satisfied with the vicarious experience  provided by  your descriptive words?

If you can successfully transport your readers to another space and time, then label yourself as a good writer!

Lynn M.                                                                 February 18, 2017

Moonlight’s Dreams Deferred

moonlight-pic   Chiron trying to outwait the bullies.

Moonlight centers on the harsh realities of black life in the inner city. It is a slice of life that we would all like to escape or simply ignore. After the show, a woman said, “That was really hard for me to watch.” I thought, “My sentiments exactly.”

Chiron’s life is played in three phases by three different actors as he grows into manhood.
As a young boy being raised in the Miami projects, he is bullied and considered to be too soft by the other neighborhood boys. He is often afraid to go home and when he does get home, his mother is addicted to crack and there is no father there.

One day while he is hiding from his tormentors in a vacant apartment, a man named Juan rescues him and takes him home to his girlfriend. He will not talk and Juan (Mahershala Ali) knows that his girl Teresa (Janelle Monae) can get him to open up. He bonds with them and they become like surrogate parents to Chiron.

Juan is the only male mentor he has and he teaches him to swim along with other survival skills. One night while in a rage, Chiron’s mom calls him a faggot. He later asks Juan and Teresa what that meant and the couple was at a loss for words. Teresa assures him that he has time to figure things out.

Later we see Chiron as a teen in high school. His mother, Paula (Naomi Harris) has become even sicker from her drug use and he still hides from the same bullies. One day, they all beat him rather badly. He is hurt that his friend Kevin (Jharrel Jerome) threw the first punch because they had recently shared some intimate moments on a beach.

The school does not stop the bullying, so Chiron takes matters in his own hands and attacks the main perpetrator with a chair. He is arrested and spends time away in jail. Ashton Sanders plays Chiron as a teenager and his portrayal is quite memorable.

When we see him again, Chiron looks almost identical to Juan. He is now a grown man, (Trevante Rhodes) wearing a headscarf, heavy jewelry and gold grills on his top and bottom teeth. It is shocking to see who he has become and he also deals drugs. He drives his car playing loud rap music as he makes his rounds to collect money from his sellers.

He makes peace with his mother who is in rehab. She asks for forgiveness and he does his best to comfort her. He also receives a long distance call and an apology from Kevin (Andre Holland) after many years and Chiron drives to see him.

Moonlight shows what happens to many black children in the inner cities where there are no fathers, addicted mothers and broken spirits. This is a story that needed to be told and this film is up for several nominations. The black filmmaker, Barry Jenkins collaborated with playwright Tarell Alvin McCraney to create this piece about Miami in the 80’s and 90’s.

They both lived in the same housing project though they did not know each other at the time. They agreed that others needed to know what life was like during the crack epidemic. They also used children from the neighborhood middle school to play Chiron and Kevin as children in Scene I (Alex R. Hibbert and Jaden Piner, respectively).

At the end, Kevin asks, “Who are you man?” He could not believe Chiron’s hardcore  lifestyle but it is soon revealed that he is the same sensitive, crying man-child that he knew from their childhood.

Langston Hughes’ poem Dream Deferred fits this movie.

What happens to a dream deferred?
Does it dry up, like a raisin in the sun?
Or fester like a sore
And then run…..
Maybe it just sags
Like a heavy load.
Or does it explode?

Lynn M.                                                                                                         February 11, 2017

Two More!

the-oscars-thumbnail

At the end of the film, Manchester-by- the Sea, silence and sniffles could be heard in the theater.  This touching story centers on the inner turmoil of Lee Chandler (Casey Affleck) who is a very pent-up janitor that lives in the Boston area.

It is unclear what plagues him but he just seems to go through his life as an empty and hollow man.  He receives a call to learn that his older brother, Joe (Kyle Chandler) has passed away.  Through flashbacks, we find that there had been warning signs of his brother’s heart condition.

However, when the will is read, he hears that he will gain custody of his teen-aged nephew, Patrick (Lucas Hedges) and Lee is quite overwhelmed by the responsibility.  Patrick does not seem to be that much of a burden, but as the story continually unfolds, we learn that his hometown of Manchester-by-the-Sea holds entirely too much grief for him to bear.

Lee’s former wife (Michelle Williams) is now carrying a child with her new husband and she comes to his brother’s funeral.  He handles it fairly well but he later sees her with the newborn boy and it is a highly uncomfortable encounter.  The audience discovers through flashbacks that he and his former wife had lost all three of their children in an unfortunate accident.

Lee is adamant about not staying in Manchester-by-the-Sea permanently because he probably could not survive that setting.  He does, however, stay there for months so that he can get his nephew settled. They end up fishing together which indicates that there will be future visits between them though he entrusts his nephew to another family’s care.

La La Land, on the other hand, was likeable though it is categorized as a musical. There is a lot of dialogue so that makes the singing and dancing more entertaining and the acts are highly creative.

Sebastian (Ryan Gosling) and Mia (Emma Stone) abruptly meet on two or three different occasions before they actually connect.  They become friends, partners and then lovers.  The scenes of them dancing in parts of Los Angeles are breathtaking as they build a relationship. She is an aspiring actress and he wants to own a jazz club.

Sebastian gets sidetracked when he joins a band with Keith played by John Legend.  His tours and travels create a distance between them and he and Mia begin to drift apart. She is busy writing and acting as he builds his revenue for his big dream.  Eventually, she gets an offer to go the Paris and he stays behind in LA to work on his personal goals.

Five years pass and they meet again but the ending is a big surprise, yet it mirrors real life.  The choreography, the cinematography, the clothes, the music, the colors and designs are all captivating and provide a great way to visit the beautiful sights and sounds of Los Angeles.

Both movies deserve the nods and nominations and are well worth a trip to the cinema!

Lynn M.                                                                                             February 4, 2017

February Love!

hearts

This month we reveal our true heart,
Honoring those who are a part,

Of our daily lives, we salute.
This is no time to just stay mute.

Buy fresh flowers, cards or candy,
Show you really care. It’s dandy!

February is painted red,
Share your deep feelings. Enough said!

Lynn M.                                                                                    February 1, 2017

Fences: A Movie

fences

In August Wilson’s Fences, Troy is slowly building a fence for their backyard at his wife’s request. Troy feels that she wants a fence to protect them from the outside forces but his friend Bono thinks that Rose (Viola Davis) wants a fence to keep her precious things on the inside.

This powerful movie was directed by Denzel Washington, who also plays Troy, the patriarch.  He is bitter and is somewhat broken by life’s circumstances.  He was a baseball player for the Negro League but never made it to the big leagues.  Instead, he works for the city as a trash collector.  He and his good friend Bono enjoy daily laughter on the job as they go through their lives as family men.

Troy advocates for himself and eventually becomes the first black driver for the sanitation department but as he climbs up the ladder, his life unravels on many other fronts.  He is at war with his youngest son, Cory because he does not support his dream of becoming an athlete.

He privately fears that his son will be injured and Troy wants him to use his mind or find a skill that he can fall back on in case of injury.  However, he does not communicate his concerns very well.  Instead, Cory thinks that his father is envious and after a physical altercation, he leaves home and joins the Marines.

In the meantime, Troy has fathered an outside child and as fate would have it, the woman dies in childbirth.  Rose finally agrees to be a mother to the little girl, but she closes the door on their love and intimacy.

Bono, his friend of many years had tried to warn him about the extramarital affair, but it fell on deaf ears.  They drift apart.  The downward spiral continues when Troy accidentally signs his brother into an institution because he cannot read and does not know what he is signing.  His older outside son, Lyons, also gets into trouble; but if Troy had gone to listen to him play as a musician, he may have stayed on track.

At the end, Cory returns home from the Marines to see Lyons and Bono waiting to attend Troy’s funeral.  Rose scolds the daughter that she agreed to raise and tells her to get dressed for her father’s funeral.

Cory and his little sister meet for the first time and they spend time on the back steps facing the finished fence.  They sing one of Troy’s favorite songs together and it is touching.

But Gabe, who carries around a trumpet, does something in the final scene that brings on the tears.  See how Gabe’s final actions leave the family members staring in disbelief. This Pulitzer and Tony award-winning play is filled with superb acting!

Ernest Hemingway’s quote fits this play perfectly.  He wrote, “The world breaks everyone and afterward, some are strong in the broken places.”

Lynn M. Dixon                                                      January 28, 2017

The Women

womens-march

The Women have spoken.
The nurturers of the wounded
And the broken-hearted.

Like Christ, they console,
Wipe away tears.
Wrap hurt fingers,
Give hugs and speak words of comfort.

They protect when the predators appear
And serve as blocks against inflicted pain.
Through understanding, compassion and mercy.

Who can live without the women?

Lynn M.                                                                                           January 22, 2017

Sun!

sunglasses-17
“Behold, I make all things new!”
{Rev 21:5}

It’s a new year and it is still January, the first month of the year.  The last few days here have been gloomy with a heavy overcast of clouds and fog.  It dampened many spirits and the outlook felt bleak.  The weather men and weather women kept promising that the sun would surely return as if they hold the controls.

Well, today, the sun came out!  She rolled out slowly but she returned in all of her glory.  The Beatles song, “Here Comes the Sun,” had an even greater meaning.  If we ever take her for granted, we are forced to endure a sense of hopelessness in her absence.

Seven days without her is simply too much for the human spirit to endure.  But upon her return, voila!  Hope has been restored.  Just as the earth continually rotates and travels its orbit, we had to continue on but we did so with a sense of mundane mindlessness.

This morning, I ventured out to drive to a place that I had never been.  The heavily overcast skies added to my sense of wariness as I charted new waters.  I followed through and reached my destination on time but the weather did not color my mood.

Yet, upon return, the sun first peeked out and then she came out in full force.  I leaned over as I drove and gleefully reached for my fairly new sunglasses.  In some geographic areas, they are known as “shades.”  I was inspired to turn the music a little louder and went into cruise mode as I took in the new sights around me.

I traveled through several townships that I had only read about or heard about as my hope strengthened.  It dawned on me that I was experiencing something new during this first month of the year.  I felt encouraged as I applauded myself for exhibiting a tad of courage.

I made it back to familiar territory and stopped by the park.  By this time, the sun was in full blast.  People were everywhere.  They had crawled out of their shells, their basements or wherever they were hibernating during this dark spell.

And yes, nearly all of them had on sunglasses! Some jogged, some walked and some had their children or pets as they moved to a silent rhythm.  But all of them wore smiles because only the majestic wand of the sun has the ability to do that to people.  It brings out the absolute best in us and there were smiles for miles!

Lynn M.                                                                                                 January 21, 2017