Monday, April 6, 2009

Women's Stories...

Women’s stories are powerful. First of all, I’m talking about the real life kind. I have the joy (and sometimes the pain) of having a life that touches many women’s lives. Along with being a writer, I am a marriage, family, and individual therapist. I hear the histories, goals, successes and frustrations of my much respected clients, as they focus on making changes in their lives.

As a part time professor of psychology, I hear the excitement of my students, as they face their futures with youthful exuberance, or those who return to school to doggedly pursue goals that life had temporarily put on hold.

In my many writing circles, I work with many creative women, teach workshops and act as a mentor. From my beloved readers, I often hear bits of life stories, and their reaction and identification with the characters in my books. I also share my life with family and many friends.

I love to hear real women’s stories. We are, I believe, the keepers of family histories, cultural struggles, and accomplishments. We’re the brightly burning candle that won’t give up on the thought that life can be bettered.

But that being said, we shoulder a lot of responsibility, pain, loss, and struggle. On certain days it can sure can feel overwhelming. Maybe even hopeless. But when we hear another woman’s story, and hear how she got through the problem, it keeps the candle burning bright.

I believe that EVERY woman has a story to tell, and that she ought to tell it. Hearing each other’s stories brings hope, respect, understanding, and a kind of camaraderie that facilitates change. In the words of an old proverb, “A single arrow is easily broken, but not ten in a bundle.”

So what does writing fiction have to do with this?

Everything. Our heroines are fictional, on the one hand. But in other ways, they signify something very real. People often ask me where I get the ideas for my characters. Are they modeled after real people? No. Absolutely not. Each of my fictional characters is distinctive and unique. But the issues, the conflicts, and the feelings speak of the combined realities of all the women I have known.

Our Avalon stories of women who face hurdles and conflicts with dignity and perseverance are not so unlike the actual stories of the issues and emotions that we "real women" face. I find that readers really relate to them. Our character heroines strive to find lasting love and connection, while dealing with family, career, and all kinds of internal and external conflict. We cry when they struggle, we cheer when they succeed.

Even though they aren’t “real”, they are believable examples of the very things we see around us. And there is nothing like a happy ending to promote hope.

At times, I’ve heard people label romance books as “escapist literature”. I beg to differ. Often our stories and heroines help us to “face and conquer problems” rather than escape them. Each time a reader writes to tell me that she identified with an issue in my book, or felt hope when a character overcame a struggle, I know that I’m right.

Strong women read romance novels. And strong women write them. I really believe that.

I love to hear the REAL story behind the women who read and write Avalon books.
And I love to hear what kind of characters keep you coming back to a good book.


Autumn Jordon said...

Great post, Christine. I love heroines who when they're knocked down by the world, pick themselves up, think out of the box, overcome their adversaries (even if it's their own self- defeating behaviors)and move on to a brighter future.

Anonymous said...

Characters that are based loosely on real people, or combinations of real people, are much more easy to relate to. If we read to escape competely, well, we might as well go to fantasy or science fiction. If we read to enrich our lives, let us read about people who are "realistic".
I concur, Chrissy. Very good thoughts here.

trolley said...

Bravo Christine! I like the way you think. So let me get on at the first stop. Let the adventures begin.


Debby Mayne said...

I agree, Christine! Romance novels are all about hope and overcoming adversity. When I read or write romances, I become friends with the people in the story. I care about what happens to them, and I don't mind worrying during their journey, as long as I know there's a reward at the end of the book.

April said...

Beautiful post, Christine! So very, very true. Romance novels offer hope and that's something that's often in short supply in the world.

Loretta C. Rogers said...

Wonderful post Christine. I recently watched an interview with Debbie Macomber. When the moderator asked Debbie how she came up with her characters, her answer was--the women in her novels were as real as the woman next door and in part, shared many of her own personal traits. I imagine that most of the heroine's and even the secondary women characters each have a little bit of ourselves in them.

Elisabeth Rose said...

Yes, I base my characters on aspects of people I know. It's the write what you know thing, I suppose, and why our characters ring true. I also have my heroines achieving things I can't but would like to LOL Eg I write mainly about musicians because that's what I trained as but my characters are all much more talented than I'll ever be hehehehe

Christine Bush said...

I have to admit that my characters usually achieve more than I do also.. ha. I really like my strong heroines.Personally, in life, I can tend to be a bit of a chicken and non-confrontational. There have been moments where I have thought, "Hmmm. Now what would my heroine do?" And then I do that.

Thanks everybody, for your great comments!

M. L. Kiner said...

"The Hong Kong Connection" is a legal thriller about a gutsy female attorney who takes on high ranking International officials. It's a taut, rollercoaster of a ride from New York to Palm Beach to Washington D.C. to Hong Kong. The plot is expertly woven, the characters persuasive, and the dialogue snappy and spot on.

Jennifer Wagner said...

Christine, I loved your post! I agree with everything you've said and have often had the discussion with non-romance readers that what we write IS about reality and issues women deal with every day. By reading our stories, you find hope, something that is in low supply in this world today. Brava!

maryellen said...

Christine, Sometimes when I feel like I am spinning my wheels, I remember one of your stories and it propels me forward. I love your strong women!

Mary Ellen

Anonymous said...

Hi Christine,

Love your books! Keep 'em coming!

Debbie Feldman