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.