As a book reviewer, I end up reading a lot of things I wouldn’t necessarily pick up on my own, but I also read a lot of book that I do choose. Among my less serious reading choices (i.e. pretty much anything I read for fun) there runs a common problematic thread. I can never relate to the female protagonists.
Main-character girls seem to fall into a few distinct categories, or tropes, and I have trouble with many. That would be a boring and complainy blog post, though, so I’m going to focus my beef on one girl in particular. I will call her “The Dreamy Writer.” You may be thinking, “Jeansandpearlsgirl, you are a dreamy writer! How could you not relate?” And I counter that that is precisely why I don’t relate.
I find that writer girls in books tend to have a loose grip on reality at best. They’re continually seized by fits of imagination, use large words that ostracize their friends and idealize romance to an unhealthy degree. Perhaps it’s because my degree is in creative nonfiction, but I rarely face the same challenges as these bookish heroines.
Do I love reading? Yes. Is escapism one of my favorite pastimes? Absolutely. I think I can still see the world around me for what it is; in fact, that’s why I write. Sometimes reality needs capturing, and sometimes it needs to be upturned, but it’s always the basis for writing. As far as my vocabulary goes, I’ve been blessed with friends who like to learn, and I’ve also been gifted with the common sense to suit my statements to the occasion. “Never use a fancy word when a normal one will do just fine” is a saying for a reason. (I may or may not have taken artistic license with the phrasing, but the sentiment remains.) Romance. Ah, romance. Well, heroine friends, when a perfectly lovely looking man with strong hands and a kind heart is standing in front of you, grab him and don’t let go. And real life friends, when a perfectly lovely looking man turns out crazy, tell me and I’ll write a story about him. No idealization there.
Maybe some authors (especially Jodi Picoult) get it right, but most just don’t get girls. Especially girls who write. And when you read and write as much as I do, you’re bound to notice. And when you have a blog, you get to write about whatever you want. Those are the rules. So maybe someday I’ll write a compelling and relatable female protagonist, but for today, I’m writing this.