I’ll be the first to tell you that I’m not one of those women who will make history. I’ve been watching the series called Makers on PBS, and I’m fascinated. The episode I just watched highlighted women in the entertainment business who broke new ground in the writer’s room and in the director’s chair as well as in front of the cameras. Remember Marlo Thomas and the television show That Girl? I lived for that show. Then along came Mary Tyler Moore with her funny, edgy show that put workplace biases on display without cramming them down anyone’s throat. These characters were hip single women with drive slugging it out on their own in the big city.
Looking back on the 1960s and 1970s I can see myself skirting all the big issues women were arguing over. I sort of stood back and watched. When divorce knocked me for a loop in the 1980s, and all the 50s style rhetoric I’d grown up with went up in flames, my interest got much, much bigger. I became that single woman slugging it out in the workplace, and I finally understood what all the fuss was about. The Makers gives voice to the intensions behind the scenes of the everyday images in movies, television and advertising. It’s heartening to realize just how much women have shaped and changed our society in the many arenas previously out of reach to them.
Watching these documentaries has me thinking about how I’m shaping my characters in the Arrowstar series of books. My intension when I’m writing the characters of Star, Kat, Carla, Ricki, and Margo has been to transport readers to a mind-place way out of reach of their everyday stresses. There is grit and dirt in the streets of Mineral City to be sure, but there’s also a feeling of community that runs deep. There’s a final resting place behind the church on the hill at the end of Main Street where connections to the ones who built the town with muscle and hope are real and visible. It’s comforting to me that outsiders like Kat, Carla, and Star have earned their way into the fabric of a town populated with people who hold so strongly to traditions and bloodlines dating back to the 1800s.
The question that’s nudging me right now has to do with edge. My main focus when choosing a book to read has always been escapism. That’s what I want for my readers as well, but what about deeper meaning and an edginess that pushes buttons and makes readers want to rise up and see above the trees? The women of Makers had vision and courage. They made history and the women of Arrowstar salute them. My hope is that Arrowstar’s characters inspire readers to make some “personal history” of their own, whatever direction that might take them. Certainly readers see that these characters are not without their flaws, and yet they persist in pursuing their rightful place in the scheme of things. As Lou Grant in the Mary Tyler Moore show said so well, “You’ve got spunk!” and then mumbled, “I hate spunk.” Arrowstar’s women aren’t looking for approval; each one is looking for the end of her own particular rainbow. Maybe that’s edgy enough.
I look forward to hearing from readers. Won’t you consider dashing off a comment to firstname.lastname@example.org? I’ll do my best to respond.
Type your email address in the box in the right-hand column of this page, and I’ll occasionally let you in on sneak peeks about Bobby Flint and Patsy Rodriguez while I’m writing A Train Robber’s Tale.
Tidbit: Let’s keep on running after rainbows, but always remember to walk in the rain just for fun sometimes.