Boy oh Boy, Girl

A few weeks ago, I got some interesting feedback on a short story. The story is written from the point of view of a guy. (Although the character is male, I would not call him a man.) The woman who read the story -- someone I'd never met before -- said that she was sure it had been written by a guy.

I took that as a compliment, because she obviously meant to indicate that the character rang true to her -- not that she found it astounding that any female person could create a convincing man (or guy).

But it reminded me of an old podcast I'd just heard: "Mad Women," an episode of The Age of Persuasion on CBC radio. The program looks at advertising, as does "Under the Influence." Both interesting programs. "Mad Women" features work from women in advertising throughout the 20th and 21st centuries. The podcast goes into more detail than the material on the website and is worth listening to.

I don't buy into the idea that "only women can write women" or "for women," or even that "it takes a woman to sell consumer products, because women buy them." Perhaps it did require  a woman to recognize the ways in which women's power in the world had gone untapped to that point -- and do something about it. Since then, the discussion around gender/advertising/ consumerism/politics/writing/publishing has taken some interesting twists. The fact that the larger conversion about (let's call it what it is) power and gender continues is hopeful to me. 

And this creativity thing, it's all about imagination. Can you see the world from another person's perspective? Can you figure out what that person's problem is or what that person wants? That's creating a character -- someone an advertiser can sell a product to. Someone a reader can spend time with. The gender of the character, advertiser, or reader is beside the point. 

Creativity doesn't require superpowers or specific anatomical equipment. Just persistence (and a sharp pencil). At least that's what I learned from my mother, whose voice reverberates in my head and heart this post-Mother's Day week.