So in my post on New Year’s Day I mentioned that I wanted to write a book. In truth, I have been working on this already, and parts have been shared with different people.
The book changes POV, and part of the story involves the changing relationship/dynamic between two of the main characters. As simply as possible, they go from outright shouting matches to what is essentially stress relief/hate fucking. It’s not the main part of the story, but it’s in there. It boils down to using sex as a coping mechanism, and it not necessarily mattering who the other person is, but seeking human contact in the closest warm body you can stand touching you. Is it pretty? No. Does it happen? Sure.
Two people have read these parts relating to their relationship through in their entirety. Others have read chunks here and there. And it’s been quite interesting getting the feedback, because the guys that read it send me back much different interpretations than the girls.
I.e., the guys don’t understand the girl character’s agency.
Or, really, that she has agency. They’ve stated that they believe she’s being used.
I had a discussion about this with one of my very close guy friends – and he said it may have been a matter of experience. Have those reading it experienced sex in this way, even second hand? Is it beyond the purview of their experience and, therefore, it makes little to no sense why a character would behave in that way or make those assumptions or do x then y to get to z?
I don’t believe this is a 50-50 split. I don’t think every girl will immediately get it and every guy will immediately not. It’s simply that I’ve never experienced such a clear gender divide in interpreting writing before.
It’s not that this doesn’t happen. Look at the stigma around romance novels/women’s literature, erotica vs. porn, sci-fi, and some graphic novels.
How do we overcome this? Do we overcome this? It’s experience, and preferences, and choices, and life. There are conversations to be had about the differences between Literary Fiction and Women’s Fiction, but how we interpret the book itself? That’s a person to person case.
And this is not to say that the scene in question does not still need editing. It does. Or that I’m not grateful for the feedback. I am.
But when do you, as a writer, say, I’m listening to those comments more than yours? I can’t address your feedback and this feedback and not make it look like I was of a sound mind when this was being created?
Or maybe I’ll just stare at the computer screen until my eyeballs bleed, because writer’s block is just so, so real.