So, today I did something new and different.
I went to a “creative writing workshop”.
It was being run by the book group (whose emails I recieve, but whose meetings I’ve never turned up to yet) and I had the idea that I’d get to talk to some new, interesting people, and maybe learn something into the bargain.
Well, I’ve learned one thing. I never want to write for a conservative womens’ magazine. Never in a million bazillion years. (That’s my new favourite number, by the way.)
So, the woman who was running the workshop was called Sophie King. At least, that’s her pen-name. Anyway, she used to be a journalist, but now writes novels and short stories. And my suspicions as to what the workshop would be like were first aroused by my use of the “search” function on Amazon. Because Sophie King writes books about white, middle-class, able, heterosexual women. Commonly known as chick-lit.
Don’t get me wrong – there is nothing, in and of itself, that is objectionable about chick-lit. If you want to write about white, middle-class, able, heterosexual women, that’s ok. But that’s not all that I want to read about. And nor, frankly, is it something I have much interest in writing about. As Ms. King pointed out, it’s a highly competitive market.
And most of the workshop was pretty interesting, and I’m glad I went, I think. But I am, first and foremost, a feminist blogger, and therefore there wouldn’t be much of a point to this post – unless it were purely navel-gazing – if I didn’t gnash my feminist teeth at some point in the procedings.
So, to gnash.
We were discussing ways of generating ideas – the news, classified ads and so on. And Ms. King suggested the idea of a classified ad selling an unworn wedding dress. Why might it be there, she asked us.
If you’re not in a good mood, I suggest you look away now, possibly heading over to look at lolcats, because it wasn’t pretty.
The suggestions were: that the woman was jilted, that the woman had gained/ lost weight, that the woman got pregnant, that there was a “death at the altar”, that the woman bought another dress, that maybe the woman never found a boyfriend but had planned the wedding regardless, that the couple eloped and didn’t use the dress, that the dress got lost.
My suggestion, made grumpily, was that perhaps the woman decided she’d rather be with another woman, or somebody who didn’t care about a dress.
Unsurprisingly, this was discounted immediately. The “pregnancy” explanation and the “jilted” explanation were also rejected for being too obvious, which I suppose I should take some comfort from.
Then another woman made a very good suggestion – that maybe the wedding dress belonged to a man, and that maybe he was selling it because he couldn’t find a woman to fit the dress. This immediately reminded me of this post about a “girlfriend closet“, so I wholeheartedly approved of the idea. Besides, as the woman pointed out, “it also explains a whole load of other classified ads – ‘man seeks woman, size 10-12…’!”
Eventually, though, this too got discounted. But in favour of what, I hear you ask. What could possibly be more amusing as a short story?
The one Sophie King thought most worthy of developing: the woman lost the dress. In fact, the woman not only lost the dress, but this meant that she had to wear one that she didn’t really like, just like her mother had told her to!!!
So, having not biased my audience at all, I ask you: which would you rather read? I tell you what, though – I know damned well which one I’d rather write!
So there was that. And then there were the constant references to children. All women, it seems, have children. Or want children. Or both. Mostly both. Except, you know, when infertility is a Brilliant! New! Plot! Device!. Oh, and all women have husbands. Duh. How else would the stork know where to come? Actually, I lie. All women have husbands, except for nasty slutty foreign au-pairs who are totally out to steal other womens’ husbands. True story.
This, my friends, is why I can’t think of a single good reason why I would want to write this kind of thing.
All things considered, I think I should stick to feminist blogging. It makes me want to gag less.