• Teri Coyne
  • Nothing Ordinary about Ordinary Women: Extraordinary Heroines
Nothing Ordinary about Ordinary Women: Extraordinary Heroines
Written by
Teri Coyne
May 2010
Written by
Teri Coyne
May 2010
There is a moment in a great dinner party when everyone is sitting around the table sipping wine and taking a break before dessert where the conversation comes alive and suddenly these strangers you were introducing yourself to during cocktails become witty, intelligent and articulate friends. “This is why I came to New York,” you think, “this is why I write and read.” Our Ordinary Women: Extraordinary Heroines event last night felt like one of those great dinner parties. Instead of a great meal, our guests were served with heaping platters of thoughtful, funny, provocative and insightful writing and comments. Our authors shared their writing, their impressions on what being a heroine means to them and most of all they opened their hearts to our audience and were amply rewarded with a great conversation about what it means to be a woman writing about real women in the 21st Century. Diane Meier kicked the evening off with a reading from her great debut novel The Season of Second Chances. Among her many insights she suggested that having style, loving your home, remembering the lessons of our mothers and grandmothers might just be the most subversive thing you can do as a modern woman. Terese Svoboda read from her intense and thoughtful novel Cannibal which she said was called, “A female heart of darkness,” by Vogue magazine while also referring to her as having ‘balls.’ She summed up her story by saying, “Cannibal is about a woman who walks too far into the Sudan with the wrong man.” I read from my novel The Last Bridge and talked about the notion of “nice” and how I am told quite often that the heroine of my novel is “not a nice person,” and wondered if “nice” is code for something else. I suggested that a great heroine (in literature or in life) should have no interest in being “nice” when being human is so much more interesting and valuable. Virginia DeBerry and Donna Grant wrapped up our readings with selections from two of their books What Doesn't Kill You and their latest, Uptown. They described the modern heroines’ journey as that moment of change and how we deal with it -- a woman loses her job after twenty five years and has to rethink her life, another a career diplomat is forced to return home to confront her past and challenge her understanding of home. Kamy Wicoff and Deborah Siegel kept the discussion going after the readings and engaged the audience and our authors with interesting questions and ideas. We talked about making time for writing, the pressure to fit your books (aka “units”) into pre-defined genres, book covers, and the importance of collaborating and sharing. The sure sign of a great dinner party is realizing your guests don’t want to leave. That was the case last night as we ended with a raffle of books and then splintered off into follow-up discussions. There is something magical that happens when you get the collective energies of women together to talk about writing and art and love. Mix that with a great venue, enthusiastic hosts, drinks, and giveaways and you pretty much have the perfect literary night. The only thing missing was cake and coffee…

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  • Diane Meier

    If I could get across only ONE thing to all SheWrites members:
    IF you have a SheWrites Event anywhere near you (or near enough to a highway, a bus, a pair of sneakers), find a way to get there. These women mean business.

  • Teri Coyne

    Pauline -- wish we could bring the evening over there! Wish u had been with us as well!

  • Boo-hoo! Wish I'd been there!
    I just found out I'd need 1 million GBPOUNDS in the bank if I wanted to move to NY!
    Now, if I can just find that extra 999,000, I'll be on the next plane.

  • Ditto that! And Teri, I felt so sated, I didn't even miss the coffee and cake (and I am a huge sweet tooth). A big thank you to last night's readers -- and audience members, many of them writers themselves -- for making last night so fab.

  • As one of the lucky attendees, I can only say that Teri has described the evening perfectly, and the the whole was even greater than the sum of its parts because of the warmth, wit and generosity of all the women who participated. The next thing is to figure out how to do much, much more of this, and how to make it accessible to ALL She Writers, wherever they may be.