Ruth. That’s the name of my manuscript.
page count = 442
word count = 170,086
genre = upmarket-commercial fiction / women’s fiction / new adult (depending on the agent’s opinion, respectively)
Ruth has existed in my mind for a very long time. Since college, I believe. I will dedicate a future blog to who I am, where I’ve come from, my education, my career prior to writing, but for now, this blog, ArmedWithCoffee.com, comes down to Ruth…and its blatant solicitation to literary agents.
Human behavior fascinates me, always has. As a child, I constantly questioned adults and quickly learned that adults do not appreciate the scrutiny, most definitely not from a kid. The thing is no one likes to be questioned (regardless of the age of the person asking) particularly when someone’s behaviors are in fact questionable. I learned early to stop asking, but I never stopped observing. Never. As an adult, a regular quote that runs through my mind while writing a recollection, “I was quiet but I was not blind,” by Jane Austen, Mansfield Park. Love that bitch. [If you become a regular blog reader, anticipate the occasional swear. Straight-up, it’s gonna happen.]
My years of accumulated observation and direct experiences only increased my need for answers. During college and grad school, those questions would be answered at last. I would say it’s people that hold my fascination, but no, that’s not right either. After two degrees and a profession dedicated to helping others, I understand I am more intrigued by motivation rather than the person.
I had a drive to understand addiction, to understand familial rejection, to understand the cruelty of words and actions, and why people would willingly choose to engage in any and all of those things. Ruth is the resolution of that knowledge.
Ruth is written from an outsider perspective; she suffers from anxiety disorder and obesity. While diversity and inclusion are hot topic points in fiction, psychological and mood disorders alike are still underrepresented despite being so relatable in today’s world. In fiction, the same is true for weight disorders.
Ruth, the character, is subjected to a childhood of rejection and abuse. In these topics, I believe, there is more representation in fiction, but what I think makes Ruth, the manuscript, different is the inclusion of the familial perspective. The reader is not thrown to the winds as it were. One of the major points of Ruth is that abuse and neglect are not random. These are learned behaviors and therefore are passed down and experienced throughout generations.
Ruth, as a character, rejects the status quo of womanhood. Ruth rejects the women in her family as leading examples of her sex and so struggles with her own identity as a woman. As she ages, Ruth is continually dissatisfied in what she sees in women, feeling set apart from most. As a result, Ruth is prone to denying traditional gender roles and rejecting “society sanctioned” sexual expressions. While Ruth is fine with separating from gender norms, she is none the wiser in what kind of woman she does want to be. Womanhood, and understanding it, is another aspect to Ruth as a manuscript.
Ruth offers up several themes and many of them marginalized, not only in the world of fiction but also in reality. Ruth concludes with a greater realization of the self as she undergoes therapy and understands what anxiety is. Ruth understands what forgiveness is and who is actually meant to benefit from it. Forgiveness is quiet, it needs no recognition or attention. Forgiveness simply is or is not. I find this aspect of quiet forgiveness unique, as in fiction, as in real life, forgiveness is often touted about and fawned over – loudly. I believe true forgiveness is a simple decision and doesn’t need outward recognition. As Ruth knows, expressing forgiveness to her wrongdoers would only mean more abuse and rejection. No. Forgiveness is personal and requires no witness. It either means something to the individual or it does not, outside opinion be damned.
And that’s Ruth, or at least the bones of it.
Hmm. I’m quite surprised by my choice of beverage this blogging day. I’ve opted for a vanilla raspberry tea concoction over a coffee. I suppose even ArmedWithCoffee could do with the occasional variance.