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Why is it important for women to write their stories?
Contributor
Written by
She Writes
December 2018
Contributor
Written by
She Writes
December 2018

This year we have interviewed some truly brilliant female writers and on many occasions we asked them, “Why is it important for women to write their stories?”

This question may seem like one with an obvious answer. Of course it’s important for women to write their stories because their perspective matters as much as a man’s.

The reason for asking it though is to motivate women to get writing. To write even when you feel overwhelmed by motherhood. To write even if you fear your story is trivial. To write even if you think you're too young, too old, "not a writer" or lacking a unique perspective. To write even if you think it could ruffle feathers. To write even on the days it is the hardest.

This collection of incredible authors gave us their answers and the results were as varied (and inspiring) as the writers themselves.

Justin Chen

We women must tell our stories now because that’s how we sister each other—hold each other up, encourage each other on, make the path a tiny bit smoother for the ones who follow us. When we reveal our stories, we are minister to each other.

In other words, as Ursula Le Guin said, “We are volcanoes. When we women offer our experience as our truth, as human truth, all the maps change. There are new mountains.”

So tell your story. Change the maps. Create new mountains!

Leila Slimani

“I don’t think feminine literature exists. I think there’s just two kinds of literature. Good literature and bad literature. I do think it’s extraordinary and important for women to write and to tell, and to testify what it is to be a woman in this world. What it is to watch this world as a woman or as a mother.

For many years and centuries women couldn’t write, and couldn’t get published. So it was very difficult for women to tell their stories. If they tried they would have to use a masculine pen name.

So when I go to write I think of all those women from those centuries who wanted to tell their stories and someone, their father or their husband or someone else, told them it’s not possible. And I think of them and I want to write for them. So many women yesterday, but even today in my country of Morocco, it’s hard for women to think about being a writer.

It’s very difficult for many women in many countries to tell the truth or her truth, to break their silence and use words as tools. It’s very difficult. So I feel a kind of duty to tell them it’s hard, but it’s also extraordinary.”

Janet Evanovich

I suppose I have a certain perspective as a woman, and no one can entirely escape their history, but I like to think neither of these things are a driving force behind my stories.  It’s important for me to enjoy each day and to (hopefully) pass some fun on to my readers.  I think I write slightly escapist but very relatable fiction that has some good core values.

Karen White

Because no one can tell it better than those of us in the “trenches” of life.  We are the emotional, physical, and spiritual centers of our families—children, spouses, aging parents.  We are the hands that rock the cradle.

Natalia Sylvester

Because men are never asked why it's important for them to tell their stories—their importance is an unspoken given, unchallenged and accepted. I want that for our stories, and I want that to happen on our terms and with our voices at the center.

Jessica Knoll

Women are are not some rarefied breed—we're human beings, just like men! The male experience is not the default human experience, and our stories are important not just for other women to find ways to connect to each other, but because they simply make for compelling content.

Jesmyn Ward

SW: Why do you feel it’s important to offer a writing class to other women writers through She Writes University?

JW: It's often difficult for women to navigate writing workshops. I actually met several men in various writing programs I was involved in who told me, point blank, that they do not read women writers. If someone is coming into a workshop with that mindset, what does that mean for how seriously they will consider a woman writer's work? She Writes University creates a space for women writers to meet other writers and readers who will appraise their work with generosity, kindness, and careful consideration. That's a great gift.

Rachel Khong

Books are supposed to open up our worlds, not only show us one kind of world. It would be boring to read about only one kind of experience, and irresponsible to only highlight a narrow range of voices. So it’s not only important that women and writers of color tell their stories, it’s important we read them. It’s important that we recognize those who are writing well—to publish diverse books and teach them in our schools and recognize their authors with awards. We can shape this industry as readers by buying diverse books, and supporting diverse authors.

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