Our writing group meets tomorrow and we'll have three new (or probationary, technically) members joining us. Two of the three are men, which we are all pretty excited about. Not because our writing group doubles as a dating pool/occult ritual cult, but because in our group of about 8 people, one of them is a guy. And while most fiction readers are, reportedly, women, all of us as writers value the perspective of that other chromosomal combination.
In spite of our desire to have some male feedback, it's been a little difficult to recruit and retain men for the group. I don't yet have a year with it, but in the time I've been with the group, we've added just 2 men, only one of whom stayed and is now the lone standout. Until tomorrow, at least. I suspect some affirmative action was involved in getting these latest two gentlemen, but I'm happy to remain guessing on that one. It's mysterious that writing, which is often dominated by men (see, for example, last year's controversy over the Publisher's Weekly top books list) seems to be filled with women at the lower rungs. I have no idea if that perception is correct nor do I feel informed enough to venture an explanation, but it's curious to me. I'd be interested to hear if anyone else out there has a similar dynamic in their writing group.
The numbers game aside, I'm looking forward to hearing from some different voices in our groups. Last week, two avid reader friends of mine, both women, were talking about how hard we thought it was for men to write female characters. (Norman Rush's fascinating but ultimately appalling Mating prompted the conversation; Tolstoy got major props for pulling it off.) We noted that we found female author's male characters far more believable, but then laughed at ourselves when we realized of course we had no idea if the men were truly authentic, or just appeared so to our minds, sympathetic to the female authors. Which is all to say, I'm excited to have some real live men (aside from my wonderful, real live husband) to sound test my male characters on.