So in the Finding Fran story line, my character is beginning to understand not only the mistakes she made in the choices of the men she became involved with but also the inherent philosophy by which she lived her life: that she needed to be in a relationship to feel fulfilled. (Notice I said “feel” not “be.”) Along the way, she begins her new novel with a character named Cookie who is not only on her own and alone (rather than on her own and lonely—a distinction!).
Mind you, it’s not that Fran (or Cookie, for that matter) is opposed to relationships. It’s just that the first woman is learning what the second already knew: that you can’t look to someone else to define you or make you feel complete or fulfilled. You need to do that all by yourself. And that it is possible to be alone and happy.
And so what do I read in The New York Times’ article “One Is the Quirkiest Number” by Steven Kurutz? That while living alone can be a “breeding ground for eccentricities,” it also provides freedom, solitude and space (literal and figurative, physical and psychological). And in “Why Women Stay Single,” Skye Danzer lists benefits to the single life: to dodge the cardiac risks of staying in a bad relationship, to avoid involvement with a cheater (something Fran certainly knew about!) and to concentrate on your career (again, something Fran needed to do).
As for how many of single women are actually out there, another NYT article reported that in 2005, “51 percent of women said they were living without a spouse, up from 35 percent in 1950 and 49 percent in 2000,”and quoted Prof. Stephanie Coontz, director of public education for the Council on Contemporary Families, as saying “Most of these women will marry, or have married. But on average, Americans now spend half their adult lives outside marriage.”
We (I’m including myself in the single category) even have our own week: September 16-22, 2012 is Unmarried and Single Americans Week. So the premise behind Finding Fran—that it is possible to be single and happy, that self-definition and contentment and fulfillment must come from within, not from without—is right on the money from a marketing perspective. And in some weird and bizarre way, this has inspired me to keep pitching that book as I work on Reinventing Rita.
Not “If you write it they will come,” but “They are already here and waiting for it so get it into their hands!”