I urge every woman to read more women writers.
Before I proceed I need to warn you this is my generation’s perspective and is changing subtly yet slowly.
Reading about women’s writing lives has a familiarity to it. Unlike men, their roles are rigidly defined. To escape and have a room of one’s own like Virginia Woolf describes has hardly evolved much, as far as I can tell. Every male author has had a wife, sister or caregiver who takes care of him but most females are still expected to be housekeepers, moms and devoted wives. Yes, I know there are exceptions, but this is generally the scenario.
Case in point: Still Writing, The Perils and Pleasures of a Creative Life by Dani Shapiro. With deft and defiance, she navigates her writerly life. Having a family and settling down in the countryside, she carefully explains the ups and downs of writing around her family’s needs and timetables. Her husband commutes to his writing job. What I surmised after reading her memoir about her chosen career is that when you write from home, the boundaries must be drawn in bold type, not in sand. Is this what Hemingway meant by a writer must bleed?
When Women Were Birds by Terry Tempest Williams is another meditative, lyrical and intentional read. It is not strange that I read these together. Both are personal, insightful and a bit radical. William’s theme is the invisibility of her mother and the metaphorical silent suffering of our mother earth. TTW is a conservationist, a liberated Mormon and a lifelong amateur ornithologist. There is much to digest in her fifty four chapters (to correlate with her mother’s 54 years of life). She inserts facts like whispers on the page, leaving you with an emotional charge. I had to read this in drips and drabs. The content is beyond symbolic.
Both of these women writers left me wanting to hear more of their music. I would recommend these two books highly if mature, non-fiction is your favorite genre.