This unusual arrangement decorates the wall at one of my favorite restaurants, Tin Pan Galley in Sackets Harbor, NY. It serves really interesting and delightful dishes, including an appetizer of white-bean hummus, roasted peppers, caramelized onions, balsamic reduction, and toasted pita points that makes me swoon (and is more than satisfying as a full meal). Mostly we eat outside, in the garden with the live music. Sometimes, though, we take a seat indoors, and that’s where I had to snap this photo. It’s an interesting artistic arrangement, but as a musician I feel a pang of sympathy for the instruments. What are they doing cooped up in that little frame? Music needs to be free!
I want to direct your attention to a recent post by Jo Eberhardt on the Writer (Un)Boxed site about our default idea that characters are male unless specifically specified to be female (and, for most of us in the Western, Euro-centered world, are also White and relatively well-educated and empowered unless there’s a reason for them to be Other). This means we tend to notice those who are different (female, people of color, mobility limited, etc.), and because they capture our attention we overestimate how often they occur. After reading this post I looked back at the 22 books I’ve read so far this year, and find that they break down as follows on gender lines:
- 10 with male point-of-view characters
- 7 with female point-of-view characters
- 3 with a collection of point-of-view characters of mixed genders
- 2 nonfiction books to which gender categories don’t apply
Thus 32% (7 out of 22) of the books I’ve read so far this year, and 35% (7 out of 20) of the fiction I’ve read this year, is centered on female characters. In this respect I score higher than Ms. Eberhardt, but only because I restricted myself to this year’s books. If I went back through the books I own, which includes whole shelves of works by Larry Niven and Dick Francis as well as by Barbara Hambly and Sue Grafton, I’m sure I would get a much lower percentage. This despite the fact that I, like Ms. Eberhardt, actively seek out books by and about women.
So my challenge to you is this: first, read Ms. Eberhardt’s post (The Problem with Female Protagonists). Then do your own count of your reading, and let us know what you find in the comments.
You might be surprised.
It’s good to try new things, right? Well, that’s what I did by porting this whole blog over to my own web site. I’ve been over there for a couple of weeks now, and I’ve decided I’m coming back here, to my WordPress home. The personal site is still there, and if you want you can check out the blogs I posted during this interim time:
- On 7/23: my daughter selects her wedding dress
- On 7/28: my 11th flash fiction entry (not a win, but still fun)
- On 8/4: how sailors help each other navigate narrow passages
- On 8/6: a photo and short message about my friend’s cabin on a lake
Why did I decide to come back here? Here are my Top 5 Reasons for Returning:
- Number 5: I realized I just felt more at home here, after two years on the blog.
- Number 4: The pingbacks and links from the photo challenges work better here.
- Number 3: I liked the themes available here better for blogging than those I had access to over on my own web site.
- Number 2: It seems easier for people who like what they see here to follow me on WordPress (no need to give an email address, for example).
- And the Number 1 reason I chose to come back: The people who already followed me are still here, and I felt like I was abandoning them.
This experience reinforces two of my firm beliefs:
- Never be afraid of change.
- Never be afraid to admit if something doesn’t work out.
So I’m back. *waves* Happy to see you all again!