Tuesday, August 13, 2013
In 1814, a woman of unknown origins graduated from Edinburgh Medical School disguised as a man.
Dr. James Miranda Barry has the distinction of being the first woman doctor in the Western world. She then served in the British Military disguised as a male surgeon for forty-five years.
Question from the e-mail: Most of the people in my writers' group write nonfiction. I write fiction. Worse, I write romances. Some of them won't participate when it's my turn to read, because, "Nothing I write is real." Can you think of an answer to give them.
Answer: Well, Gail, anyone who can understand a fact can write exposition. It only requires regurgitation of facts give you you by others. As Kurt Vonnegut Jr. once said, "All fiction writers are liars, and the best ones tell the best lies."
But the fact is that fiction provokes more social change than any other form of writing. And if you doubt it, I have three words for you: Harriet Beecher Stowe. One little novel started the American Civil War and changed more than all the abolitionist editorials in the Boston Globe ever did.
Not to mention Charles Dickens. He's fallen out of favor with the academics now. Few college instructors take time to note the enormous social change his work inspired. He wrote movingingly of his horrible childhood and what it was like to be poor and was read widely by the upper classes, who then voted to change the deplorable social conditions he depicted so vividly. Non-fiction gives you information you may need, but fiction involves the reader's emotions and makes him or her care.
And if it's Romance they object to, I give you the following from the dictionary:
Romance: n. 1. A medieval tale based on legend; a tale if chivalric love. 2. A class of literature in that genre. 3. v. to entertain romantic thoughts or ideas.
I wonder if George R.R. Martin knows he writes romances. I'll bet he does...