Thursday, October 01, 2009

Male Bonding...

For me, the key to doing research for a book is to make sure you are writing about something of great interest. Nothing could be more interesting to me than the male point of view. In my second novel, I am writing a story about a love affair between a man and woman told from both points of view and boy is it interesting writing through the eyes of a man.

Although I am still in the drafting stage, I have already concluded that when it comes to all the relationships I've had with men...well...I think I've gotten it completely wrong. I just don't think men work the way I thought they did. That's the bad news...the good news...well they aren't as complicated as I thought. Of course the irony is that most of the men I have known have been trying to tell me this for decades, I ignored this, assuming the comment was just another layer of...complication.

Writing from the first person point of view of a man has literally made me see things through his eyes and what I've seen is a revelation. Most of the time men and women just aren't speaking the same language. Women interpret, men act. While that may be simplistic, I think it is pretty true. The first time this hit me was in writing a scene where the man buys the woman a pair of earrings. He has observed her admire them and put them back and figures it would be nice to get them for her so he does. Writing as the man, this seemed simple.

Writing as the woman though, she opens the box and sees the earrings she had liked and tries to understand the meaning of the gesture. Her instinct was to interpret, how did he know I liked them? Why did he do this? How should I respond? If she asks him he will probably say, "I thought you would like them." She will undoubtedly be disappointed by that response and assume there was more to it than that.

I'm not saying she is wrong but I'm also not saying he is wrong either. What is so cool about writing the same story from both perspectives is that neither is wrong or right, they just are -- the intersection of these points of view is where all the drama, passion, conflict and connection comes from.

Although there are many things I admire about the way men approach things there are two (so far) that resonate with me. The first is that men don't hold onto emotion. Yes, this can be annoying sometimes but is also wonderful. I can count all the times I've had an argument with a man and a few hours later have asked him if he was still mad and the response, "about what?" Men tend to let things go, you fight, you have makeup sex and it's over. Women tend to ruminate on it, analyze and hold onto comments. Sometimes that's not so good.

The second thing is that, for the most part, men don't analyze our looks they way we think they do (or worse the way we analyze ourselves or each other.) While they always take heat for answering "yes" to the question "do these jeans make me look fat." We give them grief because what we hear is, "you are fat therefore I am not attracted to you nor is anyone else on the planet."

That is not what he means, he means, well, you look fat in those jeans but that is all. Men don't scan every inch of your body for flaws, let's face it, they don't really have time to do that, they like to get down to business (remember they like to 'act?')

"Truth be told," a male friend of mine said to me once during a conversation we had about women's breasts, "it's all good." Before I started writing from a male point of view I wouldn't have believed him, now I see what he means. It's kind of like cookies, some you like more than others but hey it's still a COOKIE!

I am grateful to the men in my life for helping me with this male bonding experience. Glad I have men who will happily answer questions for me about their bodies, their impressions and their feelings. The more I write as a man the more I understand. I am hoping my research will payoff in the book and in life as well. I'm hoping it is good prep for when Mr. Right finally shows up.

1 comment:

Mad William Flint said...

What's interesting about men is that we're really not that interesting.

We're simple creatures who say what we mean and mean what we say with distressing (though far from perfect) frequency.

The "hold on to emotion" thing is a funny one though. Usually, no. We let it go like a fart in a hurricane.

But sometimes...

Sometimes something'll hit us hard and stay forever.

Problem is that if that happens? You'll never know about it.

But yeah.

C is for cookie and that's good enough for me.