I have a daughter. She is among my greatest joys--smart, sunny and full of life. She is also seventeen and eager to know what this great, wide world is all about, and what her place in it will be.
And so I cringe when I find her, yet again, watching reality TV--all those housewives with their mean-spirited gossip and bitter self-absorption, all those dance moms nursing their vicious, winner-take-all fights. Please, God, I implore, do not let her think that this is what we grown women are, or wish to be. Please, God, give her to know that there are kind, empathetic and creative women abroad, women who think carefully and at length about the events of their lives, who search for meaning and purpose and whose fondest hope is that they might leave this world just a little better than they found it.
But is it okay to leave it there, my most fervent wish for her offered up as a prayer? I've dilly-dallied, postponed and procrastinated for years, but the fact is there's only one answer I can, in good conscience, give, and that is no. Emphatically no! The housewives and dance moms are "out there;" their stories are getting told. And if I want my daughter to know that women's lives can be better than those she sees on TV--more purposeful and productive and full of grace--then it's up to me to tell her.
This, then, is the long way of saying that I contributed to the Women's Writing Circle Slants of Light anthology because I believe that storytelling matters.
When we tell our stories, we offer up the past in an effort to reshape the future. We write so that we may share, and we share so that we may teach--ourselves and those who follow along behind us.
Storytelling--telling our own stories--is hard. It takes a lot of guts to come clean. But coming clean is ultimately an act of generosity, and in some small way, revolt.
Here's to all the beautiful women who told their stories for this book. It's been an honor!
Jodi Monster is a writer living in Berwyn, PA. She is the author of a memoir and several short stories and essays. Prior to settling in suburban Philadelphia, she and her family lived in The Netherlands, Texas and Singapore. She is a graduate of Dartmouth College and the University of Chicago. Many of Jodi's stories, including the one in this anthology, take place in an anonymous, seaside town in southern New England because the landscape there, with all its drama and beauty, is the most worthy backdrop she can imagine for the inherent drama and beauty of women's lives.