The Women's Writing Circle has embarked on its first anthology, a collection of stories and poems that fall under five themes which are: love/relationships, childhood, motherhood, career and aging. The idea for an anthology grew out of the desire often expressed in our writing circle of women needing to break their silence through writing.
Over the last several weeks, I have been reading the stories and poems that will be part of our as yet untitled anthology. I am struck by the honesty and the importance of these stories. They reflect a woman's life journey - from a childhood of feeling isolated from all but the beauty of nature, to the struggle with addiction and coming to terms with sexual orientation, to the grit and determination necessary to finally end an abusive marriage, to the hardship of unemployment but the desire to find renewal and passion.
This anthology was not an undertaking I took lightly. I knew it was going to be a tremendous amount of work - not just for me, personally, in compiling the book and contributing to it, but for the women. They would be required to dig deep. They would need to rewrite and revise after their work had been edited, not just by their peers, but by an outside and unbiased editor.
We often talk in the circle about the importance of "digging deep" . . . of finding and framing the inner monologue so that it evokes the reader's emotions through a universal message. Whether it is because of the Women's Movement or other transformational events over the last 40 and 50 years, it has become the task of this generation of women writers to dismantle many of the "fictions" of women's lives.
Women are realizing they have a mission to survive, to become "whole" people. They begin to come to terms, as Carolyn G. Heilbrun writes in Writing: A Woman's Life, with detaching themselves from "models of self deception and yielding."
Women are confessing what our mother's or our grandmother's generation never could. This generation of women writers dares to look back.
And so as our anthology journey continues, it is tough work, but a joy to be collaborating with 17 writers ranging in ages from their late 20s to early 70s. The courage to write the truth of our lives is ideally suited for a setting where a community of writers comes together. It is here that we find the support to take this leap of faith onto the blank page. We sustain and affirm each other. We tackle the isolation. We begin to tell our stories in a strong and sure voice.