I'm interrupting my NaNoWriMo writing to bring you this post, inspired by our friends over at She Writes. (Then again, after reading the blog post that this blog post is based on, I might as well hit the Delete key on NaNoWriMo altogether and do something more productive with my late nights, like ... um ... sleep.)
Seems that Publishers Weekly just released their Top Ten Best Books of 2009 list and, unbelievably, there is not a single book by a woman on that list and an almost total absence of people of color.
Now, I realize that Publishers Weekly can create any list it wants, and they are well within their rights to do so. But according to this blog post ("I Guess Women Aren't That Good at Writing After All") by She Writes founder Kamy Wicoff, this is no faux paus. Publishers Weekly is fully aware that there aren't any women who, in their opinion, wrote a word this year that is worthy enough to make their list.
As Kamy wrote in her post, "[a]ccording to the novelist and journalist Louisa Ermelino, the editors at PW bent over backwards to be objective as they chose the Best Books of the year. "We ignored gender and genre and who had the buzz. We gave fair chance to the 'big' books of the year, but made them stand on their own two feet. It disturbed us when we were done that our list was all male."
Um ... excuse me??!
Hence, Kamy has proposed and launched the first ever SHE WRITES DAY OF ACTION, which I am pleased to be even a small part of. (As a quick aside, if you haven't checked out She Writes yet, make a point to do so. There are more than 5,000 of us over there. I've been part of this group - membership is free - since its second week and cannot say enough great things about it.)
Back to the SHE WRITES DAY OF ACTION. By Friday, Kamy asks participants to do three simple but enormously powerful, things:
1) Post a blog on She Writes responding to the exclusion of women on PW's list. Make your own list, as many of you have done already, or take this opportunity to reflect more broadly the ramifications of its women-cook-the-food-but-only-men-get-Michelin-stars message, and share your thoughts with us all. (More ideas on this to come.)
My notes: I can't come up with a coherent list (of anything) in this after midnight hour, so that will require more thought. But I will do so.
2) Buy a book published by a woman in 2009. Take a photo of yourself holding it. Post its cover on your page. Tell us what book you bought, and why.
My reply: Two books come to mind. First, Vicki Forman's incredible memoir, This Lovely Life. I bought it because I was familiar with Vicki's story and her exquisite writing, and this book ... well, let's just say I read it in one sitting while on the beach. It's a powerful story and it damn well deserves to be among the Top Ten Books of 2009 simply because Vicki's story could be all of our stories and in so many ways, it is.
Secondly, I purchased Lorrie Moore's A Gate at the Stairs, and the reason I purchased it is, quite simply, because she is one of my all-time favorite writers. I own all her books and had to own this one. She is an inspiration to me and my own writing.
3) Invite five women writers you know to read your words and join us on She Writes.
My reply: I can't pick just five women writers. If you're reading this and you consider yourself to be a woman writer, then head over to She Writes to participate in this and bring attention to the many amazing and talented women writers in the world, if you're so inclined.
Kamy's email to She Writes members continues by saying: once you have posted your blog, send me the link at email@example.com. We will send these links to our entire community (5000+) on Saturday. We will send out a press release then too. If you are a well-known writer, you know how greatly we need your response, your leadership, and your help in spreading the word. If you aren't, we greatly need your response and your leadership too. Use this platform as a platform of your own. What else is She Writes for? Let's make a statement that no one can ignore. Please join us, BY FRIDAY, in our first-ever day of action, and we will do the rest. I'd like to see hundreds, if not thousands, of posts, and hundreds, if not thousands, of purchases. Vote with your voice and with your wallet. Push back. Make it good. Make it right.
Now, I'm headed back to NaNoWriMo. Because apparently, we need more writing by women in this world, don't we?