"HAPPY ANNIVERSARY, SHE WRITES!"

 

Finding material to write about is not always easy.  One route is the memoir, which is built on revealing material you know well. Or you can write about something you don’t know well but would like to learn about. I combine the two by weaving some – but not all – of my own life story with answers to the question “What’s going on with women?” I have spent most of my professional life chronicling that transformation of women’s lives at different stages, and the experience has, in turn, inspired and empowered my own. Every time over the past forty years that I posed the question “What’s going on with women?” the answers were different.

 

I first became curious about something “going on” was back in the seventies when I was editor of Ms. magazine.  Our readers were high school students and grandmothers, home-makers and rebels but if there was one driving editorial principle behind that breakthrough journalistic adventure, it was that if one woman was experiencing something, it was certain that other women were too, only they were not talking about it; the magazine needed to tell such stories and open up the conversation.   

 

When in my early fifties I began to feel dissatisfied and restless that faith in shared experience led me to suspect that there was “something going on.” I checked it out with other women, and sure enough, they felt it too. Inventing the Rest of Our Lives: Women in Second Adulthood was the result of my search for understanding and reassurance that I wasn’t crazy – or under some menopausal spell - and neither were the hundreds of women I talked to. (I have always loved a T-shirt I saw once that said, “This is not a hot flash. It’s a power surge.”) After that book came out, other women who were in the process of navigating that transition came forward, and described their versions of our shared experience. The more we shared, the more I began to see some guiding insights that would be helpful to anyone negotiating the bumpy road to the new stage of life. For me Fifty Is the New Fifty: Ten Life Lessons for Women in Second Adulthood was a kind of personal stock-taking based on what I had learned form other women’s discoveries and disappointments as well as my own.

 

My newest book (due our next Valentine’s Day)How We Love Now: Sex and The New Intimacy in Second Adulthood - is a deeper exploration of the new stage of life we are defining as we go along through the all-important lens of love. And sex.

 

In this case there was another dimension to the “What’s going on?” challenge: Not only was I exploring my own hang-ups and choices, and not only was I gathering experiences from other women, but the women themselves were hearing what they were saying about themselves for the first time. In many cases – especially in the context of sex - they hadn’t dared put into words, even to themselves, why they were doing what they were doing or longing to do.

 

“I can’t believe I am telling you this. I must be crazy” was a common exclamation. I knew – and they need to hear – that they weren’t crazy or alone, that what they were concerned or curious about was on the minds of countless other women. I write to enter into a supportive conversation among women like them – on the page.

-- Suzanne Braun Levine

 

Views: 19

Tags: #nonfiction, memoir

Comment

You need to be a member of She Writes to add comments!

Join She Writes

Comment by suzanne braun levine on July 11, 2011 at 7:34am
What is also amazing is how fresh and challenging such sharing is at every stage of life.
Comment by Tina L. Hook on June 29, 2011 at 9:04am

I am also intrigued by the shared experiences of women. I often feel like through discovering one another we discover more of ourselves.

GirlwithaNewLife.com

Latest Activity

Sakki selznick commented on the blog post '[The Art of Submission] It's Not You It's Me'
"Hm. You've made me think, Emily. I wanted to tell you that periods of enforced non-writing, like when we start a new, demanding job, or have a new baby or a child who is in a crisis, that those, for me, wind up storing up huge reserves of…"
16 minutes ago
Sakki selznick commented on the blog post 'Enough of This: Conquering Self-Sabotage'
"Oh, That quote is actually Marianna Williamson, not Mandela, as is often erroneously stated. Still a great quote, though."
19 minutes ago
Sakki selznick commented on the blog post 'Enough of This: Conquering Self-Sabotage'
"Hi, Emily, I loved your post about fear and not writing. I wanted to mention, too, that you just left a familiar situation and started a new and demanding job. That would stop most anybody from writing, I think. Some jobs, too, are not conducive to…"
21 minutes ago
Sakki selznick commented on the blog post '[The Art of Submission] It's Not You It's Me'
"It is easy to say but hard to do, I'll admit. She was in a class, too, meaning she already had a peer group and a teacher to be her support team as she was theirs. Emily, I would think everybody gets disheartened by rejection and everybody…"
40 minutes ago

Members

Badge

Loading…

© 2014   Created by Kamy Wicoff.

Badges  |  Report an Issue  |  Terms of Service