DHs, BFs and Outlander on Starz…..are critics counting these guys?

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imageAs I’m sure you all know, there is a lot of discussion out there on all things Outlander! In fact, several Twitter folk say they’ve never seen a TV series receive this much attention. I don’t know. I guess I never cared enough about another TV series to notice! But, Outlander? Yep, I care. And because I care, I’ve been watching all the media hi jinx.  It makes me chuckle.

One of the biggest issues being debated is whether Outlander will appeal to people who have not read the books.  Critics don’t seem concerned about the show attracting women who haven’t read Ms. Gabaldon’s novel. But men? They aren’t sure they’ll tune in. However, I think there is a male population the critics have failed to take into account…DHs and BFs.  For those who need a Twitter translation, dear husbands and boyfriends.

Almost every article written about Outlander’s rapidly approaching premier mentions the fan base.  They call us fervid, devoted, loyal, passionate, committed, and “Rabid” grrrrrr!  (Excuse me gotta wipe the foam off my mouth)  Along with these colorful and mostly positive adjectives, they always mention our size.  There are a lot of us.  And that’s my point. There are a lot of us that have DHs and BFs that are ….wait for it….men!  And guess where a lot of those men will be on August 9th? On the couch beside their significant others having a dram and watching Outlander.

I know these women.  They make things happen.  From the day they announced that our beloved book was being made into a TV series, I have been engaged with them on social media.  It’s been a wonderful experience.  They are witty, wise, creative, clever, caring and kind. (And some are a bit naughty #cgng) They come from a huge range of occupations and educational backgrounds; doctors, lawyers, authors (hello Jodi Picoult), homemakers, business women, etc……. But, the one thing they all have in common is their love of the Outlander series of books and it follows, Outlander on Starz.  They are passionate people so, it once again follows that they would share their love.  We talk about Outlander. We recruit.  Our husbands and boyfriends WILL be watching.

Please don’t think these men are being forced through some sort female machinations to watch a show they do not want to watch.  This isn’t the case at all.  Now, I’ll admit there will be men watching because they want to please their wives and girlfriends, but a lot of them are genuinely interested.  After-all, some of these men have been hearing about Outlander for over twenty years.  That is certainly enough time to extoll the virtues of Frank, Jamie and Claire’s story.

But, what about those guys who are watching to please? Well, because Starz decided to let fans watch the first episode early, I’m in the unique position of knowing how those men reacted to episode 101.  They liked it. Take a gander at the reports on Twitter and Facebook.  They are full of stories of men, DHs, BFs and brothers, fathers, uncles, co-workers, who not only enjoyed the show, but are anxious to watch it again.

Currently, there is a population of male fans who call themselves Outmanders.  I think their ranks are about to grow!

 

 

 

UK TV NEEDS Outlander….why haven’t they got it!

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image I just got done doing my bit to help Outlander fans in the UK.  Gotta admit it was fun! Love being creative and seeing creativity. @lunaticaardvark you my dear are a riot! I’m still chuckling!  Aside from the fun though, I am feeling so sad for these folks.  Many have been on this, at least year long, journey with the rest of Outlander’s worldwide fandom. I feel like I know many of them.  We talk about our lives and share our excitement over the books being made into TV.  Many have been waiting over twenty years to see their favorite books come to life.  I just don’t get what’s holding things up!?

I’m sure there are all sorts of reasonable perfectly acceptable reasons for why “the” deal hasn’t happened.  I’m just not feeling very reasonable about those reasons at the moment.  It never occurred to me to even imagine the UK would not get to see a show filmed in the UK with main characters played by actors from the UK.  Because not showing a wildly anticipated show that features the beauty of the Scotland would just be…dumb. To quote Ms. @lunaticaardvark in one of her posts for #UKTVneedsOutlander:

“Because you like to MAKE money and we like to SPEND it!”

Really, isn’t that the bottom line for BUSINESSES?  Ok …enough of my rant.  How about a sincere wish that some how what fans did today gets the attention of someone with the power to make a difference. My own enjoyment of the TV series is tainted by the knowledge that faithful fans are being ignored and may not get to watch.  Please, know the rest of us Outlanders care and will do what we can.  THE UK NEEDS OUTLANDER! Please give it to them!

Color Bird By Beth Wesson

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No wonder you stand with chin tucked and chest puffed

I would too if I were you!

So many of your kind are drab brown or blue

Not you!

God chose you to rainbow hue

No wonder you stand with chin tucked and chest puffed

I would too if I were you

A poetry prompt from

www. Catherinemjohnson@ wordpress.com

And let the critiquing begin….a review of Outlander reviews.

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imageThe first episode of Outlander on Starz has been made available to the public and a great many in the press have seen at least six episodes. Being very interested in the success of the show, I have been watching for the inevitable reviews.  They’re out there.  And I’ve read as many as I could find. To my credit, I’ve only responded to a few. IKR! This is amazing restraint on my part!  While reading I started to notice some patterns to the critiques.  The raised concerns and observations seemed to be getting repeated by various authors.  So, I’m going to place the reviewers into camps:

Camp Bodice Ripper:

You belong in this camp if you are of the opinion that this show is nothing more than romance pandering.  To be a successful camper at Camp Bodice Ripper, it appears you must be somewhat dismissive of women, especially of those in “middle-age”. You must be able to write a review that uses a plethora of pop-culture cliches and catch-phrases. It appears these campers drink a lot of “male viewers determine film worthiness” flavored Kool-aid.

Camp Structrual Issues:

Earning an extra hot dog around the campfire in Camp Structural Issues requires the camper to be able to look at the show in light of other shows.  These folks believe themselves to be experts at recognizing the elements that make for a successful T.V. Series.  Some of the most discussed elements in Outlander were its pacing, voice-over, characters and filming. I give this camp some credit for having differing opinions on the effectiveness of these elements. There actually appears to be two companies of thought in this camp. Company one believes the slower pacing bodes well for character development and a “slow burn” for the main characters’ love story. They believe it makes it sexier and the end result is worth the wait. Company two believes the pacing is too slow and laden with too many voice overs. They are concerned that perhaps Ron Moore is being too faithful to the book.   They believe the plot is lumbering and risks boring the viewer as a result.  However, both companies seem to agree that episode six was wonderful and that they hold out hope that things just might get better.  Both companies in this camp praised the music and the beauty of the film.

Camp Will It Appeal to Men:

These campers seem to be concerned that the series will fail unless Starz finds a way to make this story appeal to men.  These campers seem to be astonished that Ron Moore, given his successful track record on other television projects, is at the helm of this show.  They just don’t seem to get why this appealed to him and seem genuinely worried for him.  They can’t seem to get past the romance element either, despite Ron’s assurances that it’s a “ripping good yarn”. In my opinion, these campers don’t even seem to consider that the show might succeed without male viewership.

Camp Strong Woman Protagonist:

These campers are singing around the campfire holding hands and generally feeling pretty good about Outlander.  They are excited to see women portrayed in a positive realistic manner.  For once, they repeatedly wrote, we get to see  (I’m paraphrasing many authors) a “self-actualized woman who expects to be treated by her perceived worth”.  They feel the world is more than ready for a strong female protagonist.

Camp What’s Not to Like:

I’m thinking of joining this camp. They seem to be my kind of people! These campers are not pulling things apart nor do they seem to have any kind of political agenda.  They just point out that here is a lot to like in this series; adventure, the beauty of Scotland, great chemistry, historical interest, and a story that leaves you wanting to know what happens next.

I know I didn’t quote any specific authors in my review (frankly, there were just too many) nor did I address every issue reviewed. This was just my general impression after having read dozens of critiques.  For the most part, I believe Outlander was positively received.  I agree that it is about time for a strong female protagonist of redeeming moral character.  I loved the love story at the center of the books and early indications are that it plays well on the screen.  The music, scenery and costumes were breathtaking. That ritual in the standing stones made me gasp.  And…most importantly….when the hour was over, I wasn’t ready for it to end.  Only time will tell, but this fan gives it two thumbs up!

 

Looking for “kernels”….writing about Outlander.

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imageI’m fascinated with Diana Gabaldon’s wrting process.  As she has said before, she doesn’t write in a straight line or with an outline.  She writes scenes as they occur to her. At some point she has written enough scenes to be able to see a direction for the plot or as she puts it a pattern. In a recent twitter conversation with another aspiring writer, I was discussing this writing process when guess who commented on the conversation! She sees everything! She’s omnipotent! Actually, I’m not sure she sleeps. Her point was to do whatever it takes to get words on the page. Do what works for you; whatever it takes be that outline or no line.

I am so appreciative of her generous interaction with her fans and especially with those who aspire to write. Her insight is invaluable.  Her explanations are always clear and make total sense. She is a great teacher and I learn. This particular conversation revolved around the idea of revisiting written scenes to look for “kernels” that will lead to new insight into the characters and their actions. Often these kernels then lead to plot twists or direction.  This discovery process fascinates me and I set about to see if I could apply its principals to my own writing.  Imagine my surprise when I realized I already do! (How could I not know this?)

I fact, this is how I choose what to write about. I reflect on conversations, perhaps something I’ve seen or often, very often what I’ve read in the Outlander series.  I find “kernels” of truth about life in the pages and story that Diana has written.  Her work is my muse.   Her stories are my “cornfield” to harvest!  I’m hoping that someday soon my writing will move beyond my obsession with the series, but for now…it works. I’m writing and learning.

I’m amazed that I haven’t run out of things to write about Outlander.  As of this post, I have 29 blog posts all Outlander related. I think my ability to find new things to appreciate or write about the series are a testament to the richness of her story. Her characters are fleshed out to the point of being able to walk off the page. Her settings and story immerse the reader.  I truly feel I’m there when I read. The dialogue is engaging and real.  And, as I’ve expressed before, there is truth about the wonder and irony of life in the conflicts her characters strive to overcome. I always find something new to write about. Recently, I joked that all questions could be answered with an example from Outlander! It is my point of reference, along with the Bible and my own life experiences!  LOL!

My latest blog post was inspired by comments Diana made at the Comic Con screening panel.  She spoke about choosing to write about a love that lasts for fifty years.  I was inspired to look for the “kernels” of truth about a fifty year love in the story.  What I found was another truth about life. I found something new to appreciate. I found something new to write about.  It hasn’t  been my most read blog, but it is one of my favorites.  People are sharing with me their love stories. They are telling me I am expressing what they feel about Diana’s work. I’m moved by what they write and wonder if I’m getting a little taste of what she must experience when people tell her what her writing means to them.  I know she has said she  is always interested in hearing what people see and get from the books. Well, I can share that my readers get affirmation about what they believe to be true about life from her story of a man and woman and their everyday and not so everyday adventures.

Thank you Diana for sharing your gift and time and “kernels” of truth.

 

 

 

Comic Con Q&A…Diana reminds me again why I love these books.

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Like many in the fandom, I’m experiencing an Outlander hangover.  So much to see and watch in the last few days! My pre-occupation has been ratcheted up to walking-zombie status!  My head hurts from excessive goodness imbibing. I’m thinking, my sister-in-law might have had the smarter and more sensible approach. She just didn’t watch anything!  A moratorium on all things Outlander till August 9th and then they will feast! Literally. That girl has a great pre-premier Scottish/Outlander spread planned!  I’m sort of envious of her restraint, but…I…can’t…stop…watching….and…listening. Sigh.

Fans have been soooo generous with their pics and tweets! I’m grateful to them! Really. You guys were great!  In addition to the fan reports, I watched everything Starz posted and linked.  How cute was Sam taking over Instagram and Graham’s Scotch Talk (loved the laid out on the floor pic) ! But, per usual for me, there is one tidbit I can’t stop thinking about. It’s toward the end of the Comic-Con panel and Diana is discussing writing the books. There seems to be a lot of discussion about the books romantic elements. Is it a romance? Is it an adventure? Will men like it? Loved Ron’s response that he thinks PEOPLE will like it because it’s a ripping good yarn!  In addressing this issue, Diana comments that there are a lot of story lines about falling in love, so SHE decided to write about staying in love…for 50 years. God, I love that woman.

Unlike a Romance novel, Jamie and Claire’s love story doesn’t stay in the falling in love honeymoon phase. Thank The Lord.  As some of us were discussing on Twitter, if they had, the stories would have held our interest for no longer than the time it took to read them.  Instead, many of us re-read the books over and over and never seem to tire of what is revealed between those pages.  Herself writes about what happens after people fall in love. She writes about the dynamics of enduring love, complicated relationships and the irony of life. This is what truly engages her readers. She gets deeper. As a fan tweeted, ” She gets that life doesn’t end at 20″.

I chuckle when I think how little luck she might have had if the books had started at Voyager.  What would the pitch have sounded like? “Well, it’s the story of a couple in their mid to late 40’s who reunite after 20 years of longing for each other”.  Knowing our youth obsessed culture not sure how much interest that would have riled up!  But, those of us who love these books know Claire and Jamie’s age won’t matter to the reader. They won’t notice how old Jamie and Claire are because of “who” they are when they are together.  That is what attracts us.  It’s fascinating.

Diana has given us a look at a committed loving long-term relationship. If you’ve read my blog before you know how much I appreciate Ms. Gabaldon’s ability to write a poignant scene. Claire’s trip to the printer’s shop is full of those scenes.  Let’s start with the scene after Jamie realizes Claire has truly returned to him.  They are holding each other and Claire notices they are both trembling with,”…longing of twenty years streaming down our faces”.  They touch each other’s features in wonder. I believe I could barely breathe when I read this scene.  The intensity of their need of each other was palpable.  Not the intensity of lust, but of need. Deeper. She writes about depth.

I love that they do not fall in to bed right away.  We get to see the delicate dance of their becoming reacquainted with their lost other half.  They are shy with one another; she lets us feel their insecurity,  “…Will ye take me__and risk the man that I am, for the sake of the man ye knew…” Deeper.

And even when they do at last come together physically Jamie lets us know that this romance isn’t just sex,

“…to have you with me again_ to talk wi’ you, to know I can say anything, not guard my words or hide my thoughts_God Sassenach” he said, ” The Lord knows I’m as lust crazed as a lad and I canna keep my hands from you _ or anything else_ ” he added wryly, ” but I would count that all well lost, had I no more than the pleasure of havin’ ye by me, and to tell ye all my heart”.  And she replies, “ It was lonely without you, ” I whispered,” so lonely.”

Sigh…. Definitely one of my favorites.  The product of an almost 39 year-old marriage, I can relate. In my husband’s presence, I become me. I can be me because of the trust and care I know exists.  My own Jamie once said, “I know everything isn’t perfect, but people would kill to have a relationship like ours”.  I get deeper.

The rest of Jamie and Claire’s story is no less engaging. Diana continues to write of their struggles with the big things in life. She also had the foresight to know that enduring love reveals itself in the everyday. The reader doesn’t only see Jamie and Claire in the big crisis-filled moments.  The reader can come along as they build a life together in the seemly mundane activities that make up the bulk of most of our lives.  In my opinion, this is where true love gets revealed. It’s easier to step up to the plate in the big moments because their’s not much choice in the matter. However, to choose to act out of love everyday?  A hero’s work. These books are more than romance; they are a monument to real love.