Friday, February 22, 2008

Where is Jack Handy when you need him?

Yesterday, blog friend Melissa Marsh posted a question, Why do men spit?

Of course, I felt obligated to answer.

This isn't the first time I've felt duty bound to speak on behalf of my gender because for whatever reason it seems that women out number men in most writing circles. A quick count of my writing related blog roll says five of the forty one bloggers are male. That ratio is not all that different from the ones I see at the writing conferences I've attended. My friend Debbie, who has taught many a writing class, has told me she got excited anytime a male sounding name appeared on her class roster, because that meant a different perspective in the upcoming class. But she says more often than not her excitement was for naught since the student turned out to be a woman named Frankie.

All this begs the question, Why?

Are women that much more imaginative? And creative? Maybe but I don't think that is the true answer.

Do they have more time to write and pursue publication? Hardly, since most of the ones I know work, raise children, run households and do all the other things necessary to be a functioning member of society. Actually most women seem to perform far more daily takes than their husbands.

So what is the answer? I'm sure there are many factors but I have a theory.

Women have more courage than most of my male counterparts. They are more willing to stick their necks out, expose their dreams to scrutiny, and face rejection.

I have been writing seriously for seven years. in that time I have seen many a talented male writer wash out and give up too soon. Sure I know women that do the same but not nearly as many. But I give those fellows credit for at least trying. I know others that say things like, One of these days I'm going to write a novel." Or "I have lots of greats plot ideas." And of course, "One of these days when I have time."

Well, I tend to agree with the old saying, "If ands and buts were candy and nuts, we'd all have a Merry Christmas."

So on that note, I say to all male and female. If there is something you want to do jump in and go for it. Fear is a mighty poor substitute for a dream.

27 comments:

Josephine Damian said...

Travis, in my writing group, there's an even number of men and women (this may haveto do with the fact that it's mostly retirees), but I find the men bristle more easily in the face of criticism than the women do. I find that most men don't want to hear anything less than absolute praise for their writing. There are also a couple of guys in my group who crumbled after getting just a couple of rejection letters and decide to self-publish.

Lots of gals in my group - mostly widows -also self-publish but more so for emotional reasons - they write an autobiographical novel about their late husband, and the self-published book is more a shrine than strictly a reaction to rejection. But yes, we also have women in our group who self-publish because they don't tolerate crits or rejection, and foolishly think their work is great.

Not surprised about the women- men ratio in blogging - since women are more verbal than men, and also believe in group advice as a problem solving method.

Great post.

Jenster said...

Deep thoughts...

Very interesting theory and one that has a lot of merit.

Good thing I've had my coffee, otherwise this would have been too much to think about! :o)

ruby said...

That's a cute little saying...I'm going to start saying it!

Sizzle said...

I like this. It's like a call to action.

Anonymous said...

candy and nuts? I could say alot with this having to do with men spitting. You need candy with nuts to spit. I am sooo glad it is Friday!!! Anywho, I am glad you are not scared. I cannot spit to save my life. I think that is why your the writer. I cannot even spit my toothpaste out properly. I am not scared, just busy. hahaha. I have three boys to raise. Let me tell you they can all spit with the best of them. No scardy cats in the house.

jjdebenedictis said...

In standardized tests, girls tend to do better than boys when it comes to reading and writing. There may be a small biological bias in terms of how good girls are at expressing themselves in written form compared to boys.

However, I don't think boys are any less imaginative than girls. Just watch a bunch of kids at play; they all build their own shining worlds.

Another factor may be that women are culturally encouraged to express themselves verbally. Men are expected to be stoic and "cool" about emotional matters, and that may lead to them having trouble opening the floodgates when they do wish to express themselves.

alex keto said...

Sure, girls tend to do better at writing and boys at math at school level work. That statistic has been abused to prove any number of silly things.

But when you get to published novels, the peak of creative writing, do you think there is much difference between men and women?

My completely unscientific impression is that men and women get published at similar rates and have success at similar rates.

Carleen Brice said...

I've been in a couple of advanced writing classes where there were almost an equal number of men and women. All those guys save one were very open to criticism and were really willing to share. (I was going to say expose themselves, but that didn't sound right!)

But...did you tell us why men spit?

Britta Coleman said...

That candy and nuts quote is one of Kern's favorites! Too wierd to see it in a different context.

In my grad school classes, I've found the men outnumber the women, especially in poetry. Strange, huh.

WordVixen said...

I think it's all related to men who read. In general, men are more visual. Women are more tactile, which also lends itself to prefering imagination. Why else would a happily married woman swoon over the hero in a trashy romance novel?

It's just a theory.

Patti said...

my favorite jack handeyism: if you ever fall off the sears tower, just go real limp, because maybe you'll look like a dummy and people will try to catch you because, hey, free dummy.

and just fyi, i spit too, when i run...i blame that pack of boys i was raised with.

Shauna Roberts said...

I've heard that the majority of bookbuyers and bookreaders are women. It's been my impression that most people who want to be writers are avid readers. So another reason men may be less likely to write a book is that they are less likely to be readers.

And I too wonder why men spit. Also, why do guys like to hang out with their tools in the cold, bare garage or basement?

The Anti-Wife said...

In my current writing class there are 8 women and 6 men.

Travis Erwin said...

Just for the record, I answered the spitting question over at Melissa Marsh's blog.

Skiingred said...

I know there are differences between the male and female of the species, but I've long given up trying to understand how men think and do things. Instead, I just celebrate the differences But that doesn't stop me from wondering...

angel, jr. said...

I think I know why we spit. I'm going over to Melissa's to see if we have the same answer.

Ello said...

Travis, like Jo, my writing classes have been 50/50 men and women. My writing group started out as 7, 4 women and 3 men. WE are now a group of 4 women. All 3 men dropped out and we have no idea what has happened to them. The 4 of us though keep pushing all of us and encouraging each other and hopefully we will all achieve successes as we are now all moving on to our second and third manuscripts.

Great post as usual!

Brooke said...

Of course I am going to comment on the spitting.

And my comment is:

When I was pregnant I spit every three seconds. I made no pretense of femininity in this act, I simply performed saliva projection when needed. I had a separate garbage can at work just for my excess fluids.

Yes, my manliest (?) moment came...during pregnancy.

Charles Gramlich said...

I think it has to do partly with the fact that women are more verbal than men on average. I do also see a number of older women who blog and are perhaps semi-retired, while a lot of guys are already dead by that age.

Barrie said...

A friend of mine went to see Michael Cunningham, author of The Hours, speak. He said that he has friends who are much more talented and much better writers than he is. But they didn't stick with it, and now he's the one who's published. I don't think I put this very well. He was actually very humble about it all and wanted to encourage people to stick with their dreams.

ChristineEldin said...

Interesting post. I think it's not so much that women are braver per se, but I think maybe men have been conditioned to equate success with self-worth, so they are afraid of failure much more than women are? I think.

Also, that verbal vs. math thing.

Sam said...

Maybe men write in solitary, while women tend to group?

Lana Gramlich said...

I totally agree! This reminds me of a friend of mine in Canada who'd listen to me play guitar or watch me do any number of things & say, "I wish I could do that. I want to do that someday." I'd tell him, "DO it, then! Stop talking about it!" Evidently he wants to be able to plug into the Matrix, download the ability & just use it. He clearly doesn't want to put out the effort required!

Design Goddess said...

Perhaps your answer lies here

AaroN said...

"If ands and buts were candy and nuts, we'd all have a Merry Christmas."

I'm writing that down! :D

And I think another aspect of this whole writing thing is -- that statistically men aren't willing to invest the amount of time writing (seriously) that women are.

Melissa Marsh said...

I tend to agree with Sam on this issue, at least in the blogging world - I think women have tendency to want to share their feelings, thoughts, and processes on writing more than men. Maybe it's the "sharing" word that is the biggest difference. ;-)

Thanks for weighing in on the spitting discussion. *grin* I told my brother to, as well, but unfortunately, his ability to comment is blocked by the Evil Corporation where he works.

Sherry said...

Love that -- "fear is a mighty poor substitute for a dream"...well said!!