The Inner Struggles of Writing Feminist Fiction – #BornWithPride

Hello chums! My name is Jennifer, and welcome to my blog where I will carry you through my journey as an aspiring YA author on the publishing track with my own dystopian novel. Join me through my snapshots, doodles and general misshapen thoughts that were just begging to be documented! (That last bit might be a lie, but I’ll ignore it if you will!).

As it transpires, on the cover of a novel of any genre, the tiny sentence which hints to what the book pertains, usually under the title matters. A lot. If you didn’t notice books even had them until now – that makes two of us.

This week my mentor set me a series of tasks that included creating a suggested ‘tagline’ for my novel. Let’s get this straight – I wrote over one-hundred and twenty thousand words in less than five months in a bide to fulfil my dreams, but this five word sentence was very nearly the cause for my literary breakdown. (It’s a thing).

Naturally, I am being incredibly over-dramatic and I did eventually settle on an option I didn’t think was entirely terrible. However, it’s why I struggled in the first place that is what I found interesting and would like to share with you.

‘YA dystopian’ is a Google search that will slap you in the face with books like ‘The Hunger Games’ in under half a second. Whilst publishers may be discouraged by the pre-existence of an ‘alpha’ series (or many) in this genre, I see it as what it is; a fact. Facts make up the world and this particular fact is, I am entering a genre that already has a crowd. Another fact that led to my development of a stress twitch due to this tagline, was that more and more novels – regardless of genre – have irrefutably powerful female characters as protagonists. My novel is no exception – but I will apologise to no one for that.

The simple phrase ‘strong female character’ is nearly a slur in the literary and motion-picture world as both men and women scoff at what they believe is fast becoming overdone. Indeed I have been at parties (that makes me sound cooler than I am and I love it) where the words ‘commercial’, ‘mainstream’ and ‘feminist’ have been thrown at me like insults. To these people and some of the industry which I am only just beginning to dip my toes into, I am a sheep following a herd of what can only be seen by them as ‘typical’.

And thus, putting a tagline on my book would make the plot and characters undeniable, as I am telling the story of a strong female character which comes under the heading of feminist. I thought this was something I would always walk to with pride, and that I would catch and hug the words that were designed to be insults with readiness. Yet my hesitation begs to differ.

And here comes the truth that I can no longer deny:

As a woman I have been curved to believe that my responsibility faces outwards, away from myself and my own needs – whilst the majority of men’s faces inwards without shame, nor should they have. The sheer worry I felt that five words on the cover of a novel that is not even on a shelf, would irk some people whom I would never see proved this.

Naturally, knowledge is power and within a split second I made the choice to become unapologetic and uncompromising, and thus my personal hashtag #BornWithPride was created to remind me that if pride is inbuilt, and guilt is an optional emotion, I should always know which to choose.

Perhaps someday my main character will be so perfectly hated and irksome as to receive insults like ‘Katniss’ , ‘Arya’ or ‘Hermione’ – I will giddily await the day I get to lick those wounds!

I will leave you with this last sentiment: No (literary or societal) ‘norm’ can be created without a group need of it, and the ‘new’ wave of female lead character showcasing both physical and emotional prowess, is simply the answer to a drought that many will deny was ever happening.

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Write soon,

Jennifer x

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