The Dead Robots' Society

Writers on Writing


  1. You guys are so horrible. Maybe your biases as male writers is what is holding back good stories from having good female characters. I worked on an oil rig when I was 18 & 19 years old in Wyoming, and I am 57 now. I was the “worm” hand and the “chain hand”. I never was, and am not now, a huge, big, muscular woman. I did the exact same job as any of the men, perhaps more. I became the chain hand because the guy doing the job couldn’t do it right. And it posed a very dangerous situation because he couldn’t handle the chains safely. I handled the drill bits, I handled the elevator, I handled the tongs, I handled the pipes, and I even ran the four diesel cat engines used for drilling. And why does it have to be about “what’s real” that you know of — come on, you’re writers, that is what writers do, create something out of your imagination and sell it as believable. Make the character and what he/she/it real to the readers and then it doesn’t matter what has ever existed on this world. I would ask if, as writers, you are unable to present a character and what they do believable, then your talent as a writer might be lacking. And I can tell you, there were other women that worked the rigs too. There was even a five woman crew. I worked ninety miles out in the middle of nowhere, in blizzards for entire trips (pulling out all of the pipes to change a bit, and then putting it all back in again), 24 hours, no rest. And I know there are woman who work the oil rigs out in the ocean. And no, get that image of a tough, dike type woman out of your head. I wore nail polished, I had long hair (up while working, of course), I was fit, but not overly bulky or muscular. I was tall and slim. I worked by day on an oil rig worker, and by night was with my boyfriend and went country dancing. I will also say men whine a lot about how tough a job is, but I had no problem getting it done, if not more than them because, of course, I had something to prove.

  2. And how can you so easily say that there are no female oil rig workers just because you have never heard of or seen one. Obviously, you didn’t put any effort into research.

  3. I’m very sorry to have offended you. My main research source for that fact was an oilfield inspection company that’s been in business for over 20 years. And they’d never heard of a female worker on an OFFSHORE oil rig. I didn’t mean to suggest that women do not work in the oil fields or on land rigs.

    At Schlumberger, they were recruiting female engineers like crazy to try and help fill out the ranks. But again, I only ever heard of those jobs being on land.

    I apologize if I touched a nerve. That was not my intent. In the Q&A for The Black, I talk about companies like Stat Oil that DO have women on the offshore rigs. Evidently my research was off and I apologize profusely.

    –Paul E Cooley

  4. And if you haven’t read any good stories with strong female characters, you need to broaden your reading cache. Try Octavia Butler, for one. We female readers don’t need male authors coming to our rescue, if from your mind-set, to try and create a strong, kick-ass female character. Because usually those female characters written by a male author, who is trying to do a “good” thing to present a positive female kick-ass hero character, usually sexualize her in some way to fulfill their male fantasies in some way like that stupid book “Blindness” by José Saramago. Authors like some male authors, us female readers and writers of sci-fi don’t need your help.

  5. Don’t pay any attention to this Valerie. People like that will never to pleased and they’ll always throw a fit no matter what anyone does, especially when she’s coming in not with nuance but with hostility/ (i.e. ‘You guys are so horrible’, ‘don’t need male authors coming to our rescue’, etc.)

    Everyone’s getting offended by the little things these days and if anyone panders to the offended, then they’ll be walking on egg shells for a long time.

    Just keep doing what you do and the best you can.


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