Monday, December 23, 2013

Women, Holidays and Writing

A recent headline in the Washington Post states: For women, it's the most stressful time of the year.  The article says: "Despite making advances in education, shattering glass ceilings in the workforce and in politics, and gaining more economic independence in the past 40 years, women, on average, still do twice as much housework and child care as men, even when they work full-time outside the home."


So the holidays just impose additional stress on the ever-faithful multi-tasker that is woman.  Even as late as yesterday, I found myself in a state of anxiety, rushing to the mall to pick up a couple extra gifts. I looked around at the other shoppers, all with dazed expressions on their faces . . . many of them women and I suspected they were consumed with the same thoughts I was. I worried I didn't have enough gifts and would spoil Christmas morning and the expectations . . . but wait . . . whose expectations? Certainly not my sons or their girlfriends, but mine and the pressure I put on myself to make everything perfect as I had done so many years as a single mother.


Is this quest for perfection self-imposed as several comments suggest in the Washington Post article? Even if it is, it remains the reality for many women. The holidays magnify the stress that comes with turning oneself inside out to be Houdini, multitasking and taking care of family on a year-round basis while putting our creative lives on the backburner.

Two years ago I wrote a post entitled: "The Women's Writing Routine." A group of women had gathered in a bookstore. The candle burned brightly in the center of the table as one-by-one they talked about their writing routines. The conclusion was the same. They were so busy taking care of husbands, running businesses, tending to children and grandchildren, that writing usually fell by the wayside.

"I feel like I'm going crazy," one woman wailed. "The only writing I can get done is when I get out of the house and away from all the distractions and demands.  And even then, I sometimes feel guilty."

For many famous male writers, the hard work and discipline of writing was aided and abetted by a helpmate, a wife, a female companion. She could cook and take care of his needs; needs in all aspects of the word. Women rarely have that option.

It occurred to the women who sat in the Women's Writing Circle that morning that writing a woman's story is not just about discipline in writing and establishing a routine, or even putting one's foot down and saying 'no.'

Writing the emotional life means tapping into the painful, the passionate, the sacred. This feminine perspective takes courage and self-awareness. It takes time, precious time.

Which is why I am proposing that we meet Saturday morning from 9-11:30 a.m., Dec. 28, at Wellington Square Bookshop. As our December read-around was canceled due to inclement weather and Christmas is over, if you don't have a pressing engagement, why not make a commitment to yourself?  Let's get together, light the candle and share our stories in a bookstore hidden behind maple and elm trees. Let's devote a morning to ourselves by reading and listening to each other. Virginia Woolf once said that all a woman needs to write is money and a room of her own. All I need is a women's writing circle.

To All My Sisters in the Writing Circle, may peace and contentment come your way this holiday season and going forward.
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