The Feminine Side of Words?


Chapter 2 of Francine Prose‘s book Reading Like a Writer is titled “Words.” Until she reminded me of this in the chapter’s last paragraph, I had forgotten the chapter had a title. I was completely absorbed in the story examples she offered.

At least when I say I skim something and miss it, I have an excuse, but I was paying attention. It took me all week to finish this chapter of twenty-one pages. I probably missed other words, but I loved her teachings.

Why? Because Francine takes me deeper. Something I am not sure I can do in the same way without her help. I plan to try. I have already blamed Francine that I subscribed to the New Yorker again. I have never enjoyed their short stories, but the one she used as her last example is from the New Yorker, and I liked it. Now I want to read the whole thing on my own.

All the while, real life goes on around me. A couple of things transpired I found emotional of one sort or another. Most of the time I strive to be monkish. I think that admirable. The trouble is it doesn’t make for much of a story. Stories need emotions. Today each time I was hit with something emotional I tried to identify the why of it and to claim it through fiction.

My current fiction class demands one story a week. I like it because I am writing, but I can’t be a monk when writing a story. If I am, the story goes slack. Besides, I probably have a wrong take on monks.

Each of the stories Francine references are amazingly in touch with emotion. I guess monks are too, but they must absorb the emotion some other way than writing about it. Before I figure out their outlet, I want to claim writing a story as my way.

It has made me reconsider any wayward wish for a monastical life. I will go to go to New York City instead. Well almost. In truth I am searching for a middle ground.

How to write from my chair with the tenacity of a  New Yorker. I want to be emotional but live in rural land, and write. Surely what I have already experienced of my fellow humans should provide enough material. Is this what is meant by finding my feminine side? The feminine side of words?

15 thoughts on “The Feminine Side of Words?

  1. neonwalrus November 16, 2013 / 6:25 pm

    New York is not a unique repository of emotive effect. Why are monks devoid of emotion or interest?

    Think like a photographer, with your eye. Frame the subject. Great emotion just might prove tangible.

    • fictionfitz November 16, 2013 / 7:35 pm

      I agree, have to work on that.

      • neonwalrus November 16, 2013 / 7:37 pm

        One needs to feel it. I expect you do. Sometimes we all fall in the trap tritely defined as paralysis by analysis.

  2. Carole Webber November 16, 2013 / 7:20 pm

    I cannot think like a man so I will not attempt to figure that out.
    Maybe a man who shows compassion for others has a feminine side?

    • fictionfitz November 16, 2013 / 7:36 pm

      Works for me, I needed a woman’s viewpoint.

  3. New Hampshire Garden Solutions November 16, 2013 / 8:32 pm

    When I went through what I thought was hell on earth and started writing poetry (even though I never liked poetry) I was very monkish and came to value solitude more than just about anything. The words just poured out of me in many pages each day. BUT-I didn’t have to show them to anyone and I was on an emotional roller coaster.

    • fictionfitz November 16, 2013 / 9:01 pm

      Feels good to hear that, thanks. Given that you did not have to show anybody, did you eventually? Do you now look at this experience as helpful to your writing or would you have preferred to skip the whole thing?

      • New Hampshire Garden Solutions November 16, 2013 / 9:16 pm

        No, I never did show it to anybody and eventually tore it all up and put it in the trash. With me it wasn’t so much what I wrote as it was just the act of writing to get it all out. I hit the absolute bottom of a very dark hole and was able to climb out of it, so life has seemed like a cake walk ever since. I’m extremely grateful that it happened.

  4. jhvn November 17, 2013 / 10:10 pm

    After I got fired from my first professional job in1955, I began to struggle with the waves of emotion that has been tossing my ship of life through stormy seas. That voyage has carried me through 3 vocations beyond my highly rational engineering training till i retired as a psychotherapist. The delight and contentment of my present life amaze me. I trust that your voyage through the emotional surf will reward you in a similar way.

    • fictionfitz November 18, 2013 / 4:42 am

      John, from you and others I have learned more about how to embrace it. Thank you.

  5. Irene Waters 19 Writer Memoirist November 19, 2013 / 7:40 am

    I don’t understand why you want to be monkish and if so what kind of monk? Buddhist? Catholic? They are very different. I could tell some tales about monks which I won’t here but I can assure you that there is a lot of emotion in there and not necessarily healthy emotion. For writing to have appeal there has to be some emotion, hence the change in newspaper reporting from factual to creative non-fiction. I think you could easily sit in your chair and write well with emotion and in an observant life time you certainly would have met the characters for your stories. Melding characteristics of many into one gives you a totally fictional person yet you know well what they would be like.

    • fictionfitz November 19, 2013 / 7:46 am

      This is going into my writing advice file. Seriously, I love the practicality of its wisdom. Thank you Irene.

    • fictionfitz November 19, 2013 / 7:46 am

      Nothing in New England that I am aware of. Windy today but that is about it. Good thing.

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