Winking and hoping

Reading a lot – obsessively even – can have the weirdest effect on a person. Anyone who gets really involved in a book will understand. Hand up if you sometimes find yourself saying a line out loud to hear how it sounds. Raise the other hand if you try out what a character is doing to see how it looks or feels…yes?

Recently I’ve been winking while reading – often. Winking is not actually one of my many annoying habits, so I have to really try to do it. It doesn’t come naturally. I’m not sure that it’s a common trait – since taking up winking (in private, that is, I’d never do it publicly or in the direction of another person) I’ve carefully watched other people to see who winks.

I can report that I’ve yet to see anyone winking either in the street or in a social situation. The only winks noted have been in a 1940s romantic comedy on late night TV and a lot more in one of those British “Carry On” movies where the lecherous “hero” is always leering or winking at the busty blonde. In real life I think it’s safe to say that very few people wink unless they’re suffering some kind of stress disorder when the wink is more of a tic and not intended to be attractive to the winkee.

So – and this is my point and question – why do so many heroines of lesbian romantic novels wink at one another? In the past year, because of researching and writing a thesis, I’ve read a lot of what is popularly called “lesfic” (but which I think is a really ugly and demeaning description). In the course of this research I’ve been amazed and bemused by the amount of winking that goes on. For instance, in R.E. Bradshaw’s hugely entertaining Molly: House on Fire  Molly and her paramour Lesley wink at each other 44 times.

Winking is a major activity in American lesbian romance novels, to the point where I had begun to think it must be a cultural thing – like mac and cheese and baseball – but then, along came Brit author Kiki Archer’s Binding Devotion. It’s set firmly in the UK yet its heroines wink at one another a total of 36 times in a novel about the CEO of a major corporation and her wife, the leader of a political activist outfit bent on achieving marriage equality in the UK. 

And there are many, many other instances of mass winking activity in contemporary popular lesbian fiction – these two are highlighted at random.

My Writing 101 manual says repetition is to be avoided – unless you’re writing about a serial killer and the repetition is murder. So what is it with winking and women? Do you wink? If so – at whom and when and why? Do you do it often? Does anyone in particular wink at you? (Please don’t answer if you have a tic as described above.) And do you find yourself noticing authors’ funny little habits (tics, really!) in their writing? Are they charming – characterful – irritating – weird – or what? I’d love to know what you think. Meanwhile, it’s back to trying to stop myself doing odd things as I imitate whichever character I’m involved with today.

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14 Responses to Winking and hoping

  1. LOL. thanks for this post, Diana. I raised both hands reading the first part, yes. I do that. I think i may have to do a blog post by way of a response…I have a bad habit of that. I start typing thoughts and then i go, “Oh hell, I’ll just blog this.” LOL. Again, thanks for the grins. Keep up the good work.

  2. My partner winks at me on a regular basis; and no, she does not have a tic. It is her subtle way of flirting with me when, because of the social situation we are in at the time, she can’t say out loud what she is thinking. A well timed wink isn’t seen by anyone except the person the wink is directed to. Secret winks are an art. As for your Writing 101 manual, I have also read that having a storyline end where it is revealed that the entire thing was a dream is also a big no-no. Thankfully, they didn’t adhere to that rule in The Wizard of Oz. Then again, thank goodness they didn’t adhere to that “repetition” rule either. I don’t know how effective the storyline would have been if Dorothy wasn’t permitted to follow the yellow brick road multiple times. I am not against rules, but in some cases rules are meant to be broken. There are those authors, RE Bradshaw being among them, with such considerable talent that they are able to craft beautifully written stories which leave readers thinking about them long after the final word has been read. Some authors are better off adhering to the formulaic writing style that they have used throughout all of their books. They never break any rules and their books appeal to a certain segment of readers. There are many Brittany Spears clones out there and very few Mozart’s. Luckily, there is an audience for both. As an avid fan of the works of both Mozart and RE Bradshaw, I am quite happy that they both chose to forgo the rules once in awhile. The world has enough Brittany Spears wannabe’s. I prefer smart books written by smart women over pablum filled pages. To each their own….good luck with your winking.

    • hrhdiana says:

      Michelle – your winking expertise is much appreciated, but I’m not sure you’re quite up there on the irony. The yellow brick road analogy doesn’t compute in this context and while your impassioned defence of RE Bradshaw is admirable, please don’t think I’m being critical of her very entertaining ouevre – I’m just bemused by the winking phenomenon and you’ve helped a lot. Happy flirting and enjoy your Mozart.

    • Ok I really don’t get it. In the blog post it is mentioned Molly House on Fire as hugely entertaining and says the characters winked a lot. In what way on what planet at all is that the slightest affront to someone’s writing abilities?

  3. Hey Diana, I’m not a winker and not a fan of being winked at but, beside you getting the number wrong, I don’t see what the big deal is about you stating your opinion. I love the way you’ve been handling the backlash from Bradshaw and fans. I’ve had to defend myself a few times, too, after stating that I couldn’t get through the first couple pages of two of her books due to the comma usage.

    Anyway, good for you for having a sense of humor but, please, be accurate with the wink count next time.

    • hrhdiana says:

      Hi Cheri – I know it was an unconscionable failing on my part to mis-count the instances of “the wink” but, like all good workpersons, I’m going to blame my tools. I used the word identifier on the Kindle app – and it found winks in twinks and twinkles and so on, and didn’t differentiate. This is unforgivable. I am mortified beyond words – as you can tell.

      • Very convenient. Blame the kindle.

      • hrhdiana says:

        It’s great Cheri! It doesn’t answer back and does as it’s told – although I’ll have to be more specific with requests in future. Imagine if I wanted to know how often someone had used the phrase “my pen is empty” and bad naughty Kindle picked up the “penis” bit – it could start WW3.

  4. hrhdiana says:

    HI Nikki – if Australians are in charge of the coffee bar industry on the small planet, you won’t find a Starbucks – but you will find great coffee!

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