La VIDA Feminina

Well, as soon as I saw this post from The Living Notebook in my email this morning, I knew what I was (re) blogging about today.

VIDA: Women in Literary Arts has released The Count 2012, a look at the numbers in publishing as they break down along gender lines. Probably not surprisingly, many more men than women are published in some of the nation’s top literary journals and magazines. Check out The Count here.

This is, obviously, an issue that affects me. In college I wrote my senior thesis about the notion of the “woman writer” and anthologies of women’s writing. Is the moniker “woman writer” reductive, I asked? Did anthologies of women’s writing highlight and give space to women’s voices, or did they reinforce the idea that women writers are inferior (separate and thus, not equal)?

I never successfully answered those questions; I still haven’t. They’re complicated. My own publishing history is spotty, and I wonder if I attempted to publish as SE Meserve, gender ambiguous, whether I’d have graced a few more literary journals in my day. Quite honestly, I don’t think about my sex that much when I write. But when I look at The Count I feel more aware of the ways that the already uphill battle of being a writer is exacerbated by being female.

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Woman Writer. Looking…shocked at the findings from VIDA?

Maybe this explains why I always get rejections from Boston Review.

Of course, one has to investigate further: how do these statistics play out in terms of numbers of memoirs published by women and men, respectively, every year? In literary fiction and poetry? Do newer, smaller journals do better at gender equality than Harper’s and Boston Review?

Next time you pick up a literary journal or a magazine, look at the number of women published in it. And in the meantime, I’ll try to get some statistics from the book publishing industry to share.

Keep the faith, ladies.

Liebster Award

I’m back after a (somewhat unplanned) week-long hiatus with the news that prolific and engaged blogger The Living Notebook nominated me for the Liebster Award! (You can read the post here.)

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In full disclosure, I was nominated once before, but heck, I’ll take it again. Thank you, TLN!

Per the award’s guidelines, I’m supposed to tell you five facts about myself, then nominate some other blogs. Here goes.

Five Facts:

1. The first poem I ever wrote was in third grade. We were supposed to choose a “kind of weather” we really liked and write an acrostic about it. Here’s mine, to the best of my memory:

Beaufort scales, let out your flags!

Really blowing, the breeze never lags.

Every blade of grass quivers and quakes

Every tree shivers and shakes.

Zesty breeze wakes the world.

Early morning, the breeze has purled; purled itself into a net of wind.

(Nevermind that this sounds more like a gale-force wind than breeze, but hey, I was eight. And did you catch the knitting reference?)

2. I am an epic sleeper. I can’t really sleep on planes or buses or in cars or through excessive noise, unfortunately, but I can close my eyes at 10:30 p.m. and not open them until 9 the next morning, given the right circumstance. My family calls me “Snoozin.”

3. I am a true ophidophobe. This means that I don’t just fear snakes, but I really really really don’t like them. According to Wikipedia, “A typical ophidiophobic would not only fear them when in live contact but also dreads to think about them or even see them on TV or in pictures.” I looked this up a while ago, when, watching a snake program on TV while eating dinner, I became physically ill and had to turn it off.

4. I adore this e.e. cummings poem, especially the last line: nobody, not even the rain, has such small hands

5. When I first visited California, I felt like I had been there in a past life. When I actually moved here, I stopped feeling it altogether. About twice a year I feel it again, in places like Big Sur or Monterey.

Now, onto the nominees! I am giving the Liebster Award to three fantastic blogs.

1. I’d be remiss if I didn’t nominate all the fine ladies over at popcorntheblog (including myself). I was so fortunate to be asked to join this collection of writers and blog once a month on topics writerly. I’m not really giving this award to myself; I dedicate it to the other seven talented writers who make up the popcorn collective.

2. bussokuseki. bussokuseki may not even know I’m reading, but I am: he (?) writes beautiful haiku and blogs about “the buddha’s footprints in an everyday life.” As someone new to meditation, I seek out wisdom from places like this quiet, contemplative, beautiful blog.

3. Momaste. “The mom in me bows to the mom in you”–so clever! I just discovered this very honest blog about parenting. Since I’m no longer writing my Momming blog, I need to get a fix somewhere and Momaste gives it to me.

Congratulations, nominees, and thanks again to The Living Notebook.

Losing Ourselves

I thought it was really interesting that two blog posts today were about the immersive (I think I just made up a word) world of fiction. The Living Notebook writes about Absorption today, about fiction that “brings us further into [a] dream, overwhelming our senses until the dream seems real.”

And over on popcorn, Karen McHegg discusses books that “create a world different from the one [she] lives in.” You can read about those books here.

It made me think: which books have most absorbed me in recent years? My first thought was Emma Donoghue’s brilliant novel Room. I also felt immersed in the strange world of Karen Russel’s Swamplandia and the more-real-yet-also-quite-strange one of Ann Patchett’s State of Wonder.

Which books have absorbed you lately? Head on over to popcorn and tell Karen McHegg.

And me? Today I’m immersed in three-year-old land. L. had a touch of pinkeye, and I knew I’d get the stink eye if I sent him to school.

Onward,

Susie