Hi everybody! I wanted to take a break from my sabbatical to write to all of you today about something that has been greatly on my mind these past few weeks, and ask you to take a MEANINGFUL ACTION TODAY to do something about it.
On my mind is the way women writers are consistently under-represented in the all-powerful "best of" lists that begin coming out at the end of each year.
As Meg Waite Clayton pointed out in her rousing post "Never Mind a Room, We Need a NEWSPAPER Of Our Own," in response to The New York Times' list of Notable Books for 2011, which contained three times as many books by men as women:
"The year's "great books" lists have begun. Female authors have put on our literary heels and danced backward as well as we can, but it looks again like we're going to be left tapping our toes to the music while male writers dance on the best books lists once again."
As you know, year-end lists are incredibly important for writers. When your book makes a "best of" or a "holiday gift-giving guide" list, you aren't just getting an accolade, you are getting a critical tool for exposure and sales. These lists matter, just as the year-end holiday-book-buying binge matters for writers, too. And it is really total and utter B.S. and bias -- and nothing more -- that women get left off of them so consistently.
So today I am asking our members to do two things to fight the bias and B.S.!!
1) Buy a book written by a woman and published in 2011 as a holiday gift TODAY. (I just got an email from B&N saying it was the last day to order for free shipping by December 25th!) Even if you don't celebrate Christmas, buying a book by a woman writer published in 2011 is an excellent way to honor the important work done by all women writers this year. Please tell us, in the comment thread here, which book you bought.
2) Give something, anything, to Girls Write Now. I've written about GWN here before, and they are She Writes' philanthropic partner. More important, however, they are the number one organization in the country mentoring the next generation of women writers. The girls they serve are the girls our society listens to last, and through the program they are empowered to speak, write and value their stories. Your contribution will also help Girls Write Now to share its curriculum and methods with cities all over the country and the world, expanding its mission and programming to ALL girls who need it. I can't think of a better way to make sure that the women writers of tomorrow are supported and nurtured as we all want them to be.
I hope you will take one or both steps (for giving to GWN, any contribution, no matter how small, helps), and blog, tweet and post about them today. We may not run The New York Times, but we control our buying power and our power to give.
Warm best, and happy holidays to all,