Hi everyone! We have a guest blogger at WordWranglers today, Tuesday, February 16...It's the one and only Liz Flaherty. Welcome, Liz...we're glad you're here to talk about women, power and writing...
by Liz Flaherty
It's all about power.
I didn't know that, of course. In the late 1960s, when I participated in the only sit-in to ever take place in my high school and ranted about the unfairness of rules that punished unwed mothers but allowed the fathers to go unscathed, I thought I was just being cool. Like, you know, adult.
Then it was the 70s and I was a wife and a mom and working fulltime and oh, dear Lord, pregnant for the third time in four years and I was thinking, What are you, freakin' nuts? But I knew I could do it; we all could and did. I am woman, I bellowed along with Helen Reddy on the car radio, hear me roar. Oh, it felt good, with the wind going through my hair and my daughter watching and listening. I am woman, she sang when we were done with the A-B-C Song and "I'm a Little Teapot." It wasn't about anything as lofty as power; it just was. And it was good. It was very, very good.
In the 80s, I took a creative writing course and found a whole new world full of lined paper and pens that fit my hand just right, electric typewriters, and rejection slips. I could write, work, spend four nights a week on bleachers, maintain a house.... Of course, I could, but it wasn't about power; it was about doing something just for me.
The 90s were half over before I ever got up the nerve to send my first book manuscript off to an editor. I thought it was about being published, getting on Oprah, and being able to work in my house while wearing baggy sweats and socks that didn't match. I'd probably give onlky phone interviews to guard my family's privacy and to keep me from having to wear pantyhose or makeup. That wasn't about power, either, but about me being rich and famous but reclusive at the same time.
I sold a book and got my fifteen minutes of fame here in my own community, though I didn't spend any of them on Oprah and I never gave up my day job. It was fun, and I thought it would happen again quickly, that all I had to do was write another book, but it didn't work out that way. I wanted to damn well roar, but I wasn't even getting to meow. What was going on here?
I still don't have an answer to that. I don't know much more about publishing than I did when I started, since it changes on a daily basis. Even though I count myself as an experienced writer, am a member of PAN and PASIC and have my first two book covers beautifully framed--although not the third; I've learned I donb't much like covers--I am bewildered by my place in the industry. Am I, in the words of a friend who's been where I am, "a has-been who never was?"
Oh, now, there's a power I recognize, the power of doubt, that tells me I'm too fat, too old, too set in my ways to...to what? To protest against injustice? To drive along with the wind in my hair and sing loud with the radio? T do something just for me? To dream of wealth and fame and reclusion?
To sell another book? To capture another fifteen minutes in the local limelight?
Sometimes writing is such a journey. When I started this blog, it was going to be a reminiscent walk through the 60s and 70s, a gentle laugh about what my friend Janet Dean called "roaring with Reddy." But it turned into a discovering that I'm subscribing to the wrong kind of power. I'm allowing doubt to be stronger than all those other things that have defined not only the writer in me but the wife, mother, and human being, those powerful things like sitting in for a principle, doing it all, writing books whether they sell or not, driving along with the wind in my hair.
I am woman, hear me roar. Yeah, that's the kind of power I mean.