Veronica is Boy Crazy

Once, at a backyard barbecue, I was speaking with a dear friend of mine's father. Papa Frank was a big, broad-shouldered man who never hesitated to speak his mind. He asked about my writing and as I explained to him that I write from a teenage boy's point of view, he stopped me and asked, "What makes you qualified to do that?"
To which I answered, "Well, I'm a writer. We make things up."
He shook his head. "I just don't see how you could ever know how a teenage boy thinks."
I've pondered Papa Frank's question for a long time. Some people come up with witty comebacks a few minutes too late. Me? I think it's been a few years since that barbecue and finally, finally the answer is forming in my mind.
Why do I think I can write a boy? Here's what I've come up with:
My life has been a study of "boy." My parents claim I wanted to be like my older brother from the beginning. I disagree. I think it started around age three or so. I wore my brother's hand-me-downs (corduroy OP shorts). I played whatever he played (Star Wars action figures ruled over Barbies for me). I even ordered what he ordered at restaurants ("I'll have pepperoni pizza, like him, but hold the pepperoni.")
When my younger brother came along, my immersion into the world of boyness was complete. This situation continued through highschool. I had girlfriends (who continue to be my dearest friends) but we were the girls that ran with a much larger pack of boys.
Today, I love big budget action films and fall weekends full of football, played out in the street or on the television. I choose throw pillows primarily for their fort-building properties and I can make an awesome paper airplane. Don't get me wrong. I love plenty of girly things, too. Fresh flowers make me happy, and while I don't like shopping, I do like cute clothes. But the point is, that some deep part of my psyche absolutely, completely *loves* boys. Gets boys. Maybe as much as a non-boy can.
It's turned out to be a great thing. I now have two sons, who've given me further insight into the male mind. For example, did you know that it's impossible for brothers to go a whole day without smacking, poking or tripping each other? I've tried to disprove this theory on many occasions. It's impossible. We'll colonize Mars before brothers can get through a full day without physical contact.
How does all this boyness fit into my writing? I think in several ways. I'm very conscious of keeping things moving on the page. I like large-scale, visual scenes, and I like them to happen as often as possible. But most importantly, my affinity for the Y chromosome inspired me to include a teenage boy POV in my story. My male protagonist gets as much page time as my girl does, and I kinda like that sort of symmetry. Makes sense, right?
I do hope boys read my story when it finds its way into world. Imagine it... A gangly fifteen-year-old sprawls on a couch, engrossed in a story about a future world. His brother comes along, grabs the book and takes off running. The chase is on.
It's what I long to see in my house someday. I can't picture it without smiling.
What about you? Are you writing a character that you shouldn't be qualified to write? I mean, we all do this, don't we? As writers, aren't we all extrapolating from our experiences and perceptions? What are your tricks for writing a male if you are a female? Or conversely, for writing a female if you're a male? And don't we all carry these sensibilities within us? Aren't we all just part of a single, fantastic, enormous, collective consciousness? How terrible it would be if we could only write ourselves. What would be the fun in that?
Papa Frank, we all miss you around here. Sorry it took me years to figure this one out but I know you're up there listening and I sure hope that answers your question.


I think you're more than qualified to write boy!

Thanks! (I think it's unavoidable, given the circumstances.) Thanks for coming by the blog!

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