Are Writers Better Women?

Alex Bunardzic is apparently a fan of my writing style. In his post, Are Women Better Writers? he writes:

So what is it that I admire so much in Amy’s style, for example? Well, there is this particular kind of bounciness that keeps the proceedings danc[ing] around the subject gracefully. I can’t put it in words (probably because I’m a male writer:-), but the thing I appreciate in particular is how that liveliness never lets up. Other notable writers usually tend to open their chapters in a lively fashion, but then quickly slide downwards into the dry, bureaucratic tone. Not so with Amy — she keeps going in her cheerful way to the bitter end.

Alex posted a link to this entry of his in one of my blog posts and said he expected to see a rebuttal on his desk, stat. Since this is the Internet equivalent of a dance-off, I had to comply.

Now, before I continue, I want to say that I’m not being adversarial. I’m absolutely tickled pink that anyone would take enough note of me to write about my writing, and in such glowing terms—I had to resist the vile temptation to print out this article of Alex’s and wave it in front of everyone I met yesterday. What I don’t agree with is the claim that my writing has anything to do with my chromosomes.

What’s sex got to do with it?

And now for the juicy part of this discussion.

BREASTS!

OK, moving right along…

I didn’t fall for that. Really.

If I didn’t sign my articles, my most distinguishing feature would be the voice I use when writing, or the outlandish graphic styles I tend to use. But since I do have a feminine name and I put it right there, people figure that somehow that explains the second-most different features I have. Repeat after me: “Correlation, not causation.” The breasts do not write articles on their own. Really, they just sit there. My brain demands credit.

Now, it’s possible that being female contributes to it; I’ll entertain that possibility. Perhaps it is because we ladies are already oddballs, odd men out as it were, that we are willing to go ahead and do what everyone else says will end in ruin or ridicule. We have nothing to gain by upholding the status quo because, by our very inclusion in the field, we do not embody the status quo at all.

But the main reason I don’t think it has anything to do with being female is because I learned to write from men.

My male role models

To explain, I must break out the brief version of The Story of How Amy Decided to Be a Writer. It’s relevant, I swear.

When I was about 12 or so I was a fervent Mac fan. I read Mac User, MacWorld, MacWeek, and MacAddict, in addition to a ton of Mac web sites (and after a while, I ended up starting my own). My first introduction to really great tech writing came from these magazines — with authors such as David Pogue, Robert X Cringely, and Andy Ihnatko. They’re the ones who inspired me to believe that what people really want, what they really identify with, is writing with real personality. And I admired their success.

At that time, I used to think to myself, “I’m going to be the female David Pogue.” (I was a very strange 12-year-old.) But after a while the Mac mania wore off; I still loved my Mac, but I sure got bored of writing about Macs every few days. And after yet some more time I realized I didn’t have to settle for being David Pogue with boobs, I could be even better. Even if I never wrote hilarious tech-related songs sung to Christmas carol tunes, as Pogue had.

But I never grew out of wanting to write. I never aspired to be a novelist or journalist (although I wrote poems from time to time); I wanted to write to teach. My so-good-I-envy-it list grew—I read the old Spiv e-zine which nobody but me remembers, and Suck.com. I gobbled up anything sarcastic or hilarious. I collected obscure words I could work in for comedic effect.

Today I read jwz and Why the Lucky Stiff. And you must include novelists because good writing is good writing regardless of subject matter; you can’t ignore such icons as Douglas Adams, Terry Pratchett, and Neal Stephenson (Cryptonomicon is a technical education in and of itself).

I like to read the funnier web comics, too. Tycho of Penny Arcade often has me in stitches, with his elaborate pseudo-Victorian-style news rants as well as the comic strips themselves. And so do the guys behind Questionable Content and Diesel Sweeties.

Look out! A man!!

Men, the lot of them! They’re everywhere! You’d almost think they dominated the field or something.

At last… a Conclusion of sorts!

I’m an individual, with my own hopes and dreams and other such After School Specialish claptrap. It’s not because I’m a woman, it’s because I’m human. The aforementioned writers all have very different personalities from each other and yet, to a man, they are possessed of maleness. I don’t know why my different personality should cause anyone to feel the need to think up special justification.

The real question Alex means to ask is: “Why does so much tech writing suck?” It is genitalia-indifferent, this question, and well it should be. Moreover, I think I know the answer to the question, but I gave up trying to shoehorn it into this post.

The end result is this: if I write well it’s because I work at it. I do not have Boobs +2 Against Literature, I just have… me.

No Comments

  1. Mark says:

    You rock. Nuff said.

  2. Mark says:

    You rock. Nuff said.

  3. Colin Barrett says:

    I definitely agree with this. What gives your writing such a unique, easy to read style is the fact that Amy Hoy is writing it. It’s that simple. You = r0x0r. :)

  4. Colin Barrett says:

    I definitely agree with this. What gives your writing such a unique, easy to read style is the fact that Amy Hoy is writing it. It’s that simple. You = r0x0r. :)

  5. Jenna Fox says:

    Awesome response! I love your writing too… well… what little I’ve seen of it… but you’re in my feed reader…! o.o

    …anyway…

    I have boobs, and I’m horrible at writing! Case Closed.

  6. Jenna Fox says:

    Awesome response! I love your writing too… well… what little I’ve seen of it… but you’re in my feed reader…! o.o

    …anyway…

    I have boobs, and I’m horrible at writing! Case Closed.

  7. You are one of the best – Ahhh…Douglas Adams, Watership down, it’s really about people – but he cast rabbits to sell the story, clever, eh?

    You are a star.

  8. You are one of the best – Ahhh…Douglas Adams, Watership down, it’s really about people – but he cast rabbits to sell the story, clever, eh?

    You are a star.

  9. Amy Hoy says:

    Thanks, everybody. :) I promise I won’t post another "OMG GO ME" post until I post some REAL content.

    And Alan, you’re thinking of Richard Adams. Douglas Adams wrote The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy.

  10. Amy Hoy says:

    Thanks, everybody. :) I promise I won’t post another "OMG GO ME" post until I post some REAL content.

    And Alan, you’re thinking of Richard Adams. Douglas Adams wrote The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy.

  11. Ron Green says:

    If you haven’t already been there, try Rory Blyth,

    http://www.neopoleon.com/blog/

  12. Ron Green says:

    If you haven’t already been there, try Rory Blyth,

    http://www.neopoleon.com/blog/

  13. Well, I’m speechless ! And, mostly harmless!

  14. Well, I’m speechless ! And, mostly harmless!

  15. Ben Ramsey says:

    Your "Boobs +2 Against Literature" already showcases your oddball nature, since most women (I’m generalizing) wouldn’t make a D&D reference in their blog, nor would they know how to. My wife is an exception, since she lives, eats, breathes D&D.

    ;-)

  16. Ben Ramsey says:

    Your "Boobs +2 Against Literature" already showcases your oddball nature, since most women (I’m generalizing) wouldn’t make a D&D reference in their blog, nor would they know how to. My wife is an exception, since she lives, eats, breathes D&D.

    ;-)

  17. Labrat says:

    Gives me Estrogen cravings. Seriously good writing.

    That ObjectiveView article was really nice. Too bad you can’t cross post it here. Even the occasional random snippets or tips here would be nice. After all, you are writing a BOOK so something lighter and shorter might be a good change of pace.

    This is one blog I read for content as well as contentment.

  18. Labrat says:

    Gives me Estrogen cravings. Seriously good writing.

    That ObjectiveView article was really nice. Too bad you can’t cross post it here. Even the occasional random snippets or tips here would be nice. After all, you are writing a BOOK so something lighter and shorter might be a good change of pace.

    This is one blog I read for content as well as contentment.

  19. Brian says:

    At some point, Amy’s popularity in the Rails blogging world will have absolutely nothing to do with her gender. Well, here’s hoping.

    I mean, I’m sure there is a large number of geeks out there without girlfriends, so it might be an uphill battle.

    I would just be disappointed to see anything overshadow her creative writing ability.

  20. Brian says:

    At some point, Amy’s popularity in the Rails blogging world will have absolutely nothing to do with her gender. Well, here’s hoping.

    I mean, I’m sure there is a large number of geeks out there without girlfriends, so it might be an uphill battle.

    I would just be disappointed to see anything overshadow her creative writing ability.

  21. John says:

    Yes, the male/female writer thing is so tiresome and yes, women are uniquely qualified to write about uniquely feminine issues but c’mon we’re talking about rails here!

    Amy’s last ruby article in object view was quite good, playful and instructive but I think a man could have easily written in a similar style.

  22. John says:

    Yes, the male/female writer thing is so tiresome and yes, women are uniquely qualified to write about uniquely feminine issues but c’mon we’re talking about rails here!

    Amy’s last ruby article in object view was quite good, playful and instructive but I think a man could have easily written in a similar style.

  23. Steve says:

    Personally, I believe that it is not gender, but personality and experience which lay dormant in the hidden recesses of the milk-carton known more succinctly as life which will one day produce the finest cheese. And on the shelf of tech/design writers, you dear Amy are a most prized gouda.

    I mean that as a compliment, really.

    As far as anybody sensing a trend of -2 Nuts Against Writing, they should check out "Why the Lucky Stiff":http://whytheluckystiff.net/ or Tycho from Penny Arcade as you mentioned. I look forward to Tycho’s articles more than the comic itself.

  24. David Pogue says:

    >I didn’t have to settle for being David Pogue with boobs, I could be even better.

    Hey! What could possibly be better!?

    :)

    –Pogue

  25. Benjamin says:

    I didn’t know you were a woman till this post.

  26. Well at last catched the problem.

  27. Thanks. Updated appropriately!

  28. Just thought I’d make a note about a problem :(

  29. Semen Hair says:

    There is some strange behaviour with this.

  30. There is some strange behaviour with this…

  31. I was very dissapointed of this…

  32. Thanks for taking the time to do it :(

  33. I thout to do it in my local version.

  34. Well at last catched the problem :(

  35. Well at last catched the problem!

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