Many fiction writers hold Bachelor degrees in English. I still can’t figure out why I do not hold such a degree, given the fact that English was always my very favorite class throughout high school. Somewhere amidst my rabble-rousing at the University of Michigan, though, I set my sights on the social sciences. I later returned to school and earned an MFA, but I have to admit the whole while I pined for graduate courses in sociology, anthropology, and psychology. Now, as I chase after a doctorate, I am finally able to weld both of my passions: creative writing and psychology. Turns out, they fit quite well together. You have heard of the psychological novel, right?
In my upcoming 49 Writers course, What Women Want, I will share with you some of what I am learning. Focusing on the current trends in the psychology of women, I will explain my belief that psychological research can add depth to your stories, poems, and non-fiction. People often think of Freud when confronted with the field of psychology, and in fact, it was Freud’s old question that inspired my course name. “What does woman want?” he asked forlornly, then he threw up his metaphorical arms and said something along the lines of “Whatevs.” Although Freud did rock the world with his idea of the mind as a complex entity of competing drives, the modern discipline views much of his work as horrendously lacking in scientific method. Sadly, my course will not focus on penis envy or hysteria. Rather, we will review a more modern history of the psychology of women, illustrating that women have been left out of the research for decades, and emphasizing the gender similarities approach.
Once students digest the overview of the psychology of women, we will engage in a discussion about how psychological research can be just as important as historical research in the process of creative writing. Students will explore ways in which a character’s psychology interacts with other literary elements such as style, setting, and plot. After, we will do a close reading of a selection of female literary characters, some whose psychology is fully drawn and believable (though perhaps surprising), and some who . . . well, you’ll see. I encourage students to come to class with a draft or character sketch, as we will have an opportunity to practice various ways of envisioning and showing a character’s psychology.
I wish all of you the very best writing, health, and well-being in 2016.
Register for What Women Want, an in-person class in Anchorage, held on March 3 at our website.
MARTHA AMORE is a fiction writer and also teaches writing at Alaska Pacific University and the University of Alaska Anchorage. She achieved her Masters of Fine Arts in fiction from UAA, and currently resides in Anchorage with her husband and three daughters. Her first novella recently came out in the anthology Weathered Edge: Three Alaskan Novellas, and she is a 2015 Rasmuson Foundation Individual Artist Project Award winner. Currently, she is working on an anthology of Alaskan LGBTQ short fiction and poetry, as well as a book of her own short stories. She is also a student of psychology, angling for an Interdisciplinary PhD.