Oct 6, 2017

Interests: Creativity, Life's Work, Opening The Next Door

Author: Jen McGahan

How to Develop Your Voice In A Room of Your Own

I'm lucky. This office has a window to look through as I write. In this, my first blog post at HERdacity, the fact of a window seems worth mentioning. Women writers look out into the world and then turn inward, culling thoughts and experiences to write what is real. 

And then... they share it. 

This small office has a view of a large ash tree and a whitewashed half wall made of concrete. It is a blessing. To be a female writer with the time to form thoughts, and string sentences together in a safe, quiet place; in the scope of history, I possess a luxury many women could never have imagined.

The ability to find and serve an audience is even newer, thanks to the wave of blogs and websites on the web. 

That last part – an audience – is not completely necessary for a lot of women writers.

So WHY do women write?

Humorist Gina Barreca lists several reasons why women pony up to the blank page in spite of the day-to-day obstacles. Collecting quotes of several famous women writers on the subject, she reminds women that in reading each other's words, "we are not alone in the oddity of our beliefs. [Fay Weldon]." 

When your private, most personal voice is open to the public…

Just this morning I was just talking with a freelance writer friend who uses her blog to muse about future dreams, concerns about culture, motherhood, etc... to "just get it out there,"she says. She only edits and hones her message for her clients. Her blog is more of a semi-personal journal. One she shares with the entire world. 

The truth is, with an audience comes the stress of being seen. If you know many writers, many of them introverts by nature, visibility isn't their first priority. Many women begin writing to simply affirm that their thoughts lead to order, and then, if they have some skill and a genuine voice, to a connection. If someone nods her head at the words they read, the writer has done a fair job of it. 

But how do writers know if they've made a connection? 

Most writers I know don't write for glory. As this morning's Nobel Prize winner Kazuo Ishiguro claims, "I just hope that my winning the Nobel prize contributes something that engenders good will and peace.”  

Hope is good. Seeing those heads nodding in agreement (or, let's be honest, winning a Nobel Prize) is even more affirming.

Is it any wonder, then that authors who have something to say, stand up before audiences and, well, speak.

Authors as Speakers

Since HERdacity will be attending the Texas Conference for Women in a few weeks, and since it's Friday (a good day to recommend books), I was checking to see which speakers also had books. Of the 15 keynote speakers, only three are authors of books:

Mallika Chopra: Living with Intent: My Somewhat Messy Journey to Purpose, Peace and Joy

Annie E. Clark: We Believe You: Survivors of Campus Sexual Assault Speak Out

Diane von Furstenberg: The Woman I Wanted to Be

A personal How-To, a collection of personal stories, and a personal memoir.

The common theme: Personal.

In A Room of One’s Own, Virginia Woolf asserts that in order to write fiction women need a private, quiet space, and some money. As we gradually acquire both the independence and the freedom to say the hard thing, and entrust it to the minds and hearts of others, women naturally share what is personal to them. (Let's hope the money will follow!)

As my writer friend Shell expressed this morning, she believes she has something to say that the world needs, but she just needs the space and time to edit her blog and publish a book. Ah, those age-old gatekeepers, space and time...

You’re never really alone.

Reading women allows us access to deeply personal (many times common) experiences and a woman's unique telling of it. Attending a talk, whether a TEDtalk video online, or a live event; can draw us even closer to that woman's story. The benefit to the speaker and her audience is the ability to witness each other nodding our heads in agreement.

Now it’s your turn. Let’s stoke this fire.* 

Many writers speak. Many speakers write. Name one author/speaker you've read/seen who has moved you with her personal story. 

*Stay tuned for more info on how to join an HERdacity Campfire.


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