I’m wondering if, as I have suspected, we women writers are endangered…in a novel way.
There is a thread connecting Jill Abramson to the girl buried in my woods: both confident, outspoken, strong women, they faced an opposition they perhaps could not have imagined because it is almost never mentioned: the opposition of the male establishment, in the person of a famous publisher or in the person of a nameless drunk, who made them examples of the price we must still be prepared to pay.
My newspaper of choice is the Las Vegas Optic, a thrice a week little dandy that manages somehow to keep up the brio we used to expect from all newspapers.
How reassuring it is to find a second appraisal, to my mind more sensitive and compelling than the first, in The New York Times (March 31).
In my heart, she has a special place because of some curious connections: she was at Radcliffe a few years before me, in the wretched fifties, and came out of that experience with formal training, an early marriage, and three sons.
This essay, by Steve Almond, from the March 25th edition of The New York Times, comes like a bombshell, dispelling not only my notions about why people take the writing workshops I teach, but why I often find teaching them frustrating.
Twenty-five years ago, a group of women from all over the state started to put together what would be, for the area, the first gathering of women writers. I remember the first meeting I attended, in a tall office building set in the middle of the green University of Kentucky campus. Women writers came together who would become well known: Alice Walker, Toni Cade Bamberra, and many others. We were all at the beginning of something big—we knew it, rejoiced in it, and wondered how time would define, or change, our original dream.
Having lived through the bad old days of journalism, when aspiring, talented women might hope to rise from the secretarial pool to write book reviews or tidbits for what was called The Women’s Page (recipes, childrearing, fashion) to what in the 1970’s was reformatted with new names, no longer mentioning women but containing the same