Alex Callahan

Perfect mix of magic and mayhem

Female protagonist that saves herself

Major Samantha Carter and Buffy were an integral part of my growing up. And yes, I realize that I just dated myself pretty bad. Shut up. That’s not the point. Strong female characters who are allowed to be vulnerable without it costing them their strenght is the point.

The problem is, after Sam Carter and Buffy, my expectations, when it came to the female characters in my media, were somewhat high. And more often than not that amazing woman needs to be saved from a monster, a magic curse or a serial killer. TV shows and movies more so than books, American media more so than European ones.

When Tess Gerritsen’s crime novel series was adapted into the TV show Rizzoli & Isles, a book series I adore with the power of a thousand suns, I was terrified watching the pilot, when Jane Rizzoli was tied up in a van, in danger of being killed. I wasn’t afraid that she would die (she was, after all, a title character). I was scared that they would have her male partner save her.

He didn’t. She saved herself.

It’s my greatest fear and a thing I hate the most in stories.

A female character who is established is tough and a fighter, who needs a man to save her, solve the mystery, fix the problems.

Ugh, no.

It’s the reason why I told myself that any story I ever write will never have a female protagonist be a passive participant. She might need guidance or help (because sometimes there’s stenght in numbers), but she will not be a helpless damsel losing her agenda because there’s a strong man there intent of saving her.

It does mean that sometimes I have to work around some plot problems and get creative when it comes to solutions. Sometimes Istruggle and it takes longer than it would otherwise. But it’s worth it and you better believe I will continue to do this, because ultimately, I think it’s important. And it might be important to others as well.

Failure is indeed an option

Random Thought Process Alert:

Someone at work told me recently: “Failure is not an option”. I laughed and nodded before we both moved on to another task we’ve been discussing. But at the back of my head, I heard a nagging voice insisting that “yes, it is.”

Failure is part of life, more so when you’re a writer. Our craft is so subjective than even when you’re at your best, someone somewhere will hate what you put out.

Every time I get a rejection email from an agent, that’s one more failure on my balance sheet. And yes, every time it hurts, but I can’t deny its impact on me.

Failure has taught me so much over the years.

I learned time management and how to prioritize my tasks, and what happens when I don’t do it. I learned what things I actually value and what I can live without. I learned how to manage my money and why ignoring my problems can lead to disaster.

More importantly: I learned to motivate myself when the results of my work are not immediate. I learned to establish my own standards and work hard to achieve them, to work hard until I’m satisfied with the results. And I learned to be very careful about whose opinions I care about and who do I allow to influence me and my choices.

So yeah, failure is indeed an option. It’s the option that allowed me to grow, to become better. A better person. A better writer. A better career woman.

Simply better.

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