“Girls are trained to say, ‘I wrote this, but it’s probably really stupid.’ Well, no, you wouldn’t write a novel if you thought it was really stupid. Men are much more comfortable going, ‘I wrote this book because I have a unique perspective that the world needs to hear.’ Girls are taught from the age of seven that if you get a compliment, you don’t go, ‘Thank you’, you go, ‘No, you’re insane.’”—Lena Dunham, in an interview with The Guardian (x)
I got a message to make a phone call to Publishers Weekly this afternoon, following a strong response to the all-male, all-white panel for BookCon, which is ReedPop’s consumer-side show as part of Book Expo America. Here’s the piece.
I’m pleased with the fact there’s a piece about the backlash.
My one wish is that someone who wasn’t a white lady (me) were the one being heard. I wish, too, I hadn’t been the one female quoted in the piece. But that’s here and there, and I think if you want more context for why this is a concern of mine, help yourself to Sarah McCarry’s important string of tweets about privilege and publishing that came at the same time as yesterday’s backlash.
In short, I am not saying anything anyone else hasn’t been saying forever. I am not saying anything a person of color hasn’t been saying forever. But I have far less at stake if I keep pushing at it. I can handle being called a bitch and a feminist and misandrist and whatever other creative names people who disagree with my message can come up with.
In short: when we speak up for women and poc having representation, we’re accused of being man-haters and throwing men under the bus.
Far from it.
When we call out privilege for what it is — all men on a conference panel, men being the dominant force in an industry, men having power and prestige a la the New York Times Bestsellers list, better publicity and marketing, even the label of being “better” storytellers, per one of the asks — we are doing no such thing. We’re instead looking at the system and pointing out the flaws.
Those men are not the flaws. And we need to stop apologizing for them or on their behalf. Of course it’s not their fault.
It’s the fault of a far bigger, more pervasive system. It is only by examining it and asking questions and pointing out homogeny and sameness that we make any inroads. And we have to also do our part to step back and examine our own part in the system.
People who anon ask are cowards in these situations. People who anon comment are no better.
People who won’t risk themselves when they have the opportunity to advocate for those who aren’t as privileged as they are are also part of the problem. To which end, I point out how much respect I have for Rick Riordan and his tweet regarding the BookCon panel he’s a part of. Support men AND women. Support white people AND non-white people.
When you support one group of people, it is in not denigrating another group of people. Instead, it’s doing your part to raise everyone up.
I don’t need to delve deeper. But I’ll post a few relevant things.
Congratulations! I am a huge fan of Gayle Forman’s beautiful novel If I Stay—it made both my heart and eyes cry, a lot—and I am looking forward to becoming a fan of your portrayal of Mia in the movie adaptation this August when I see it myself.
BUT as a YA author, I am concerned about your misconceptions about YA. According to Entertainment Weekly, you don’t “love the “young adult” designation" because you think "it diminishes the book’s value.” You also don’t consider If I Stay a YA novel because, “It deals with issues that are much bigger… it’s much darker than I think most YA is.”
ANYWAY. I can’t make you love the young adult designation but I just thought you should know being categorized as a YA novel does not diminish a story’s value. That’s actually a choice you’re making. So I’d like to recommend a few YA novels that might help you reconsider that choice! Quite a few of them are dark, and quite a few of them deal with big issues. Some of them are romantic because wouldn’t it be silly to discount a story’s value because it made you feel good? I think it would.
Happy reading! Courtney
SPEAK by Laurie Halse Anderson CHASING BEFORE by Lenore Appelhans 13 REASONS WHY by Jay Asher SPLIT by Swati Avasthi ROOMIES by Tara Altebrando & Sara Zarr ALSO KNOWN AS by Robin Benway CHIME by Franny Billingsley ANNA trilogy by Kendare Blake BLACKWOOD by Gwenda Bond TEAM HUMAN by Sarah Rees Brennan & Justine Larbalestier THE ABSOLUTE VALUE OF -1 by Steve Brezenoff BITTER MELON by Cara Chow STOLEN by Lucy Christopher POINTE by Brandy Colbert THE HUNGER GAMES series by Suzanne Collins TENDERNESS by Robert Cormier FALLEN WORLDS trilogy by Megan Crewe JUST LISTEN by Sarah Dessen WHERE THE STARS STILL SHINE by Trish Doller BEFORE I DIE by Jenny Downham RAW BLUE by Kirsty Eagar IF YOU COULD BE MINE by Sara Farizan WHERE THE STARS GO BLUE by Caridad Ferrer JUST ONE DAY & JUST ONE YEAR by Gayle Forman PROMISE OF SHADOWS by Justina Ireland ALL UNQUIET THINGS by Anna Jarzab HOT GIRL by Dream Jordan BLOOD OF EDEN series by Julie Kagawa CHARM & STRANGE by Stephanie Kuehn SCOWLER by Daniel Kraus ALL YOU NEVER WANTED by Adele Griffin IF I TELL by Janet Gurtler DANGEROUS GIRLS by Abigail Haas THROUGH TO YOU by Emily Hainsworth NOBODY BUT US by Kristin Halbrook THE SUMMER SERIES by Jenny Han SLIDE by Jill Hathaway EVERYTHING BEAUTIFUL by Simmone Howell 13 LITTLE BLUE ENVELOPES by Maureen Johnson A MIDSUMMER’S NIGHTMARE by Kody Keplinger PLEASE IGNORE VERA DIETZ by AS King HOLD STILL by Nina LaCour CATCH by Will Leitch ADAPTATION & INHERITANCE by Malinda Lo LEGEND SERIES by Marie Lu TEASE by Amanda Maciel SEPTEMBER GIRLS by Bennett Madison JELLICOE ROAD by Melina Marchetta UNDER THE MESQUITE by Guadalupe Garcia McCall ALL OUR PRETTY SONGS by Sarah McCarry DEVIANTS by Maureen McGowan YAQUI DELGADO WANTS TO KICK YOUR ASS by Meg Medina JAZZ IN LOVE by Neesha Meminger BEAUTIFUL MUSIC FOR UGLY CHILDREN by Kirstin Cronn-Mills MY BEATING TEENAGE HEART by CK Kelly Martin SEX & VIOLENCE by Carrie Mesrobian MISTWALKER by Saundra Mitchell TEETH by Hannah Moskowitz SIDE EFFECTS MAY VARY by Julie Murphy SHINE by Lauren Myracle DESTROY ALL CARS by Blake Nelson BITTERSWEET by Sarah Ockler THE DRAGON KING CHRONICLES by Ellen Oh FAMILY by Micol Ostow I WILL SAVE YOU by Matt de la Pena WHAT CAN’T WAIT by Ashley Hope Perez ANNA & THE FRENCH KISS by Stephanie Perkins KINGDOM OF XIA trilogy by Cindy Pon BOY21 by Matthew Quick SCARS by Cheryl Rainfield BEAUTIFUL by Amy Reed BLEEDING VIOLET by Dia Reeves AMELIA ANNE IS DEAD AND GONE by Kat Rosenfield DR. BIRD’S ADVICE FOR SAD POETS by Evan Roskos HOW I LIVE NOW by Meg Rosoff THE DIVERGENT SERIES by Veronica Roth THIS SONG WILL SAVE YOUR LIFE by Leila Sales USES FOR BOYS by Erica Lorraine Scheidt SEND ME A SIGN by Tiffany Schmidt LIVE THROUGH THIS by Mindi Scott LIVING DEAD GIRL by Elizabeth Scott CHASING BROOKLYN by Lisa Schroeder THE MARBURY LENS by Andrew Smith THE REECE MALCOLM LIST by Amy Spalding THE CAHILL WITCH CHRONICLES by Jessica Spotswood THE IN BETWEEN by Barbara Stewart THEN YOU WERE GONE by Lauren Strasnick 17 & GONE by Nova Ren Suma THE SPECTACULAR NOW by Tim Tharp RATS SAW GOD by Rob Thomas THE TROUBLE WITH HALF A MOON by Danette Vigilante SOUL SCREAMERS series by Rachel Vincent THE BOOK OF BLOOD AND SHADOW by Robin Wasserman SMALL TOWN SINNERS by Melissa Walker WHERE THINGS COME BACK by John Corey Whaley THE CHOSEN ONE by Carol Lynch Williams THE SPACE BETWEEN TREES by Katie Williams THE MOCKINGBIRDS by Daisy Whitney FREAK OBSERVER by Blythe Woolston ABSOLUTELY MAYBE by Lisa Yee THE PROGRAM by Suzanne Young PAPER VALENTINE by Brenna Yovanoff STORY OF A GIRL by Sara Zarr THE HYBRID CHRONICLES by Kat Zhang
All month long, the Believer and its favorite cousin, the lovely and talented Tin House mag, are offering up a joint promotion where you can get a year-long subscription to both magazines for just $65. (Subscribe today! Here!).
To celebrate, we’re running “The Soundproof Room,” by Lacy M. Johnson, which can also be found in the most recent issue of Tin House. It is an excerpt from Johnson’s forthcoming Tin House book, The Other Side, which can be ordered here. We hope you’ll enjoy the piece, and consider subscribing to two great magazines that look nice on the shelf right next to each other.
THE SOUNDPROOF ROOM
I won’t be coming in today
Tell me everything, he says. Start at the beginning. He does not mean the playground at the preschool with the rainbow bridge. Or the kitten tongue like sandpaper on my cheek. Or the potpourri simmering in the tiny Crock-Pot on the counter next to the jar of pennies in the kitchen. Though any of these could have been a beginning to the story I tell him. I want to see it, his little notepad, but he leaves the room to make some calls. No, I can’t call my family. No, not any of my friends. Nothing to do but to look at my feet, which are suddenly very, very absurd. Someone should cover them with shoes and socks.
He returns to lead me down a dark hallway, where every office is a room with a closed door, through a kitchen, where coffee brews and burns, out a heavy steel door to a parking lot, an unmarked car. A detective’s car. He gestures, as if to say, After you.
Happy Book Birthday to the paperback edition of 17 & GONE, on sale today!
I haven’t yet held a paperback of 17 & GONE in my hands—if you do, please send mea photo—but I am told that the paperback really is on sale today, and so I am choosing to believe it. If you haven’t read it yet, I hope you’ll consider buying the paperback edition with Libba Bray’s beautiful blurb on the front cover, and the…
Bright Before Sunrise: One Night That Changed How I See the World
“One night can change how you see the world. One night can change how you see yourself.”
To help celebrate the release of Tiffany’s Schmidt’s new book, Bright Before Sunrise, I wanted to share one night that changed me, just like in the book. I mean, there had to be a night like that in my life, right? Doesn’t everyone have one of those nights?
So I started sifting through my memories. I thought and thought over it. Something about my writing career… Something that made me into the person I am today, with her fourth book on the horizon… Something I could pinpoint and say, THAT’S how it happened.
But, after digging and musing and remembering, I see that the biggest life-shifting night in my life isn’t at all about being a writer or reaching that part of my dream, but it’s shaped my life more than anything else. It’s the night of October 16, twenty years ago, when I first connected with a boy who would become my college boyfriend, my real-life-after-college boyfriend, and years later, my partner in this life I’m leading.
I can’t go into detail about what happened on this incredible night that changed every single aspect in my future because my other half likes things kept private. But I can tell you this: It was unexpected. I had no idea that night would shift my future forever.
And life-changing moments are often like that: Exhilarating. Thrilling. (Romantic!) And totally unexpected.
Congratulations, Tiffany, on your new release!
Itching to know more about the book?
About BRIGHT BEFORE SUNRISE…
Jonah and Brighton are about to have the most awkwardly awful night of their lives. For Jonah, every aspect of his new life reminds him of what he has had to give up. All he wants is to be left alone. Brighton is popular, pretty, and always there to help anyone … but has no idea of what she wants for herself. Her seemingly perfect life is marred only by Jonah, the one person who won’t give her the time of day, but also makes her feel, well, something. So when they are repeatedly thrown together over the course of one night, anything can—and does—happen. Told in alternating chapters, this poignant, beautiful novel’s energy and tension, amidst the humor and romance, builds to a new beginning of self-acceptance and hope.
About Tiffany Schmidt…
TIFFANY SCHMIDT lives in Pennsylvania with her saintly husband, impish twin boys, and a pair of mischievous puggles. And while she thinks sunrises are quite beautiful, she’d rather sleep through them. Send Me a Sign was her debut novel. Find out more about Tiffany and her books by following her on Twitter @TiffanySchmidt or visiting www.TiffanySchmidt.com.
Fellow writers! By any chance will you be at the #AWP14 conference in Seattle later this week? If so, here is where you can find me (if, in fact, you’d like to find me):
I fly in to Seattle Wednesday night and will likely be starving after the long flight, hoping against hope that I make it to the hotel before the lobby restaurant and room service closes for the night, but that’s not your problem.
My panel is the first day, Thursday morning, and if you’re interested writing YA or children’s books, I hope you’ll join us:
Thursday, Feb. 27: 10:30 am to 11:45 am
Room 618/619/620, Washington State Convention Center, Level 6
R151. Commercial Literary Fiction (Not an Oxymoron): The Place of Craft in Writing and Teaching Children’s and Young Adult Literature. (Micol Ostow, Stephanie Kuehnert, Laurel Snyder, Sara Zarr, Nova Ren Suma) Young Adult and Children’s literature are exciting, increasingly popular markets that many writers want to break into. How do you make your manuscript—or help make your students’ manuscripts—stand out… and sell? How does being commercial mean respecting the reader, not something crass? Five published YA and Children’s authors will present exercises they employ in their own writing, and in workshops they teach, to develop authentic voice, characters, and story worlds that editors will snap up. If you can’t make that, I have a whole list of panels I’m trying to hit during the conference, most of which I’ll keep to myself, but here are a few panels I am trying not to miss. If you happen to be there, and see me, say hi! I can be shy in crowds.
Thursday, Feb. 27: 4:30 pm to 5:45 pm
Room 604, Washington State Convention Center, Level 6
R263. How to Write About a Murderer. (Madge McKeithen, Jessica Handler, Arlene Kim, Kate Sweeney, Nick Twemlow) Can a writer adopt an alternate persona or innovative style to explore disturbing subjects? How does altered identity or medium affect a writer’s process and a reader’s experience? Five writers who work in prose, poetry, film, audio, and visual art discuss examples of their adopted personae and structural choices and give examples of ways these applications break boundaries and add perspective in articulating story. Participants discuss one another’s work and choices that have inspired theirs.
Friday, Feb. 28: 10:30 am to 11:45 am
Room 3B, Washington State Convention Center, Level 3
F140. Magic and the Intellect. (Lucy Corin, Rikki Ducornet, Kate Bernheimer, Sarah Shun-Lien Bynum, Anna Joy Springer) In her essay “The Deep Zoo” Rikki Ducornet writes: “the work of the writer is to move beyond the simple definitions or descriptions of things… and to bring a dream to life through the alchemy of language; to move from the street—the place of received ideas—into the forest—the place of the unknown.” On this panel five fiction writers intend to describe, depict, illustrate, and otherwise expose this movement from known to unknown in order to ask: what do we mean when we say “magic”?
Room 612, Washington State Convention Center, Level 6
S245. Small Town Girls. (Caroline Patterson, Leslee Becker, Beverly Lowry, Tami Haaland) Small towns are places where life is lived up close. Four writers of poetry, nonfiction, and fiction from across the United States will explore their lives as girls in small towns—the restrictiveness versus the freedom, censure versus the subterrannean social life, and the freedom of the natural world versus the restrictiveness of the social world.
Saturday, March 1: 4:30 pm to 5:45 pm
Aspen Room, Sheraton Seattle, 2nd Floor
S257. How Far Do You Go: Sex in YA Fiction. (Sarah Mlynowski, Robin Wasserman, Adele Griffin, E. Lockhart) The only thing more awkward than adolescent sex is writing about it. These writers have published an extensive, wide-ranging variety of books for teenagers that touch on themes of early sexual experience and all its attendant issues. From the question of age-appropriate content to technical points of writing a thrilling kiss to the challenges of exploring the implications of a sexual awakening, the panel is sure to engender lively, candid conversation.
And on Friday night, I very well may be stopping through here to meet up with my fellow YA people in town for the conference:
AWP with a dash of YA Friday, February 28 at 6:30 pm
POLAR BAR (it’s in the Arctic Club, Seattle) 700 3rd Avenue
*This YA drinks night isn’t an AWP event—and is open to the public!
Otherwise, I’ll be around—hope to see some friendly faces!
Earlier this month, you could find me high up in the Santa Cruz mountains of Northern California, not so far from San Francisco, at a beautiful artists’ sanctuary called the Djerassi Resident Artists Program. I was gifted a writing residency there once before, in 2012, but my visit this month was to share my love of the place—and its inspiration, its magic—with my fellow YA and middle-grade…
some acts of courage are not grand or sweeping or dramatic at all. sometimes they are so small when you look back, you look past them. sometimes it’s not the moment you committed to keep going but the moment before that, when you were on the ground and felt only your defeat and you were so scared and alone in it, you weren’t sure if you could get up—or even if you wanted to—but you would take this breath and the next one and the one after that, just in case.
"Every time I mention to someone that I want to go into publishing they pat me on the back and give me this ‘I’m sorry your cat died’ look of pity and it’s becoming harder and harder to remain optimistic. Is the publishing industry really on its way out, or is there still hope for us bookworms?"
Yes, absolutely. Maybe I’m a fool, but I don’t think the book business—and especially the business of editing—is going to disappear.
That said, it’s going to change. Change is inevitable, and I’ve already seen seismic shifts over the course of my own career. Adaptation and evolution is the only way (in biology and books) not to disappear.
The question is HOW we change. That’s a choice we all make together: writers and publishers and readers.
Personally, I’m flummoxed by the idea that MORE books (we already have way too many) and LESS curation is the salve we need.
We all love books and we deserve to have the best that books can offer. Things are going to change, but I do believe you have the power to say how.
“I now wander the earth, a ghost, with no intent to write, but carrying a spark in my fingertips, which keeps me in a state of constant fibrillation, neither dead nor alive, a will-o’-the-wisp of stress, art, and the hours.”—Mary Ruefle, “A Minor Personal Matter” (via invisiblestories)
Are you teaching anymore online YA writing classes next year? ty!
So flattering—I’ve gotten a few emails lately and now this question here, and I just want to say thank you for wanting to take a YA writing class with me. Last year and the year before I taught some online YA novel writing classes with Mediabistro.com, but I don’t have any plans at the moment to teach another online workshop with them in 2014. Sorry about that!
I do have two weeklong in-person workshop & retreats with me at an artists colony in California, but both sessions (February and June 2014) are full. Spaces are limited due to housing.
If you are considering going to to New England SCBWI workshop in Springfield, MA, in May, I will be on faculty there, and will be leading two sessions: a “Killer First Chapters” workshop and a talk about first-person voice. I will also be a special guest at the Highlights Whole Novel Workshop in September led by amazing authors and teachers Nancy Werlin and Sarah Aronson.
If any new teaching opportunities pop up—especially for online classes—I will be sure to make announcements on my website and blog appearances pages, which you can find here.
Thank you so much for wanting to take a class from me. I wish you all the best of luck with your writing!
Oh, fellow writers. So, while I work on the revision of what will be my fourth published novel (my sixth written novel, and none of this is counting any of the work-for-hire novels I’ve ghostwritten), I look up and keep seeing this ugly face in the mirror.
I thought, by now, now I’m writing book #4, surely, surely I’d have vanquished it by now. But no.
The funny, though not really ha-ha, thing I’ve learned as my career as an author moves on is that the doubts don’t go away. In fact, I could swear that they are all the more heavy on my shoulders and heavy-breathing in my ear than they ever were when I was first starting out, and surely before I published.
Before I published, I had no idea what would happen in the “real world” once my books hit the shelves. (If they even did.) If I got so lucky, would my books be despised, lauded, ignored, used as a stepstool to climb up and get a better book? All of the above, it turns out, but when you are in that place in your career when you don’t yet know, when the road before you is hazy and fogged up and could lead anywhere at all… Well, anything could happen.
I felt oddly positive back then. I had doubts, sure, but I also had so much blind hope. So many dreams. So much possibility.
Now here I stand with the third book—17 & Gone—out last spring and due to come out in paperback this March, and my fourth book—The Walls Around Us—getting closer and closer to what I want it to be as I work through this revision. And while I do look at my pages and realize I’ve learned so much and have gotten better as a writer, I find myself doubting so much more often than I did before my first book—Dani Noir—and then my first true book of my heart—Imaginary Girls—came out. The doubts are now something I war with every single morning as I sit down to write.
I look ahead now and I see the road. I see all the turns in the road. All the potholes. All the steep hills and the far drops. I don’t want to drive that road.
In truth, as we all know, I can’t really see ahead to the road (none of us can see the future to what will happen when our books come out, it’s always a mystery), but because I’ve been on the road a few times by now, I think I know what to expect and it’s coloring everything I’ve yet to experience.
It’s damning. I wish I could pluck some of my old innocence back and just write away, lalala. And yet, I’ve also learned so much from my previous experience and I want to build on that and grow.
The truth is, you only get one (possibly two, as I did in a way, because not too many people knew about Dani Noir, and it was middle-grade) chances at a debut.
I tell myself that, in a way, each new book is a new shot and a new chance at being the best you can be… But I also know that, in a way, each new book after the first one is jumbled up with what happened before. You can’t truly separate yourself, even if you change your name. (Sometimes I wonder about that.) Readers remember. Publishers remember. Bookstores remember. And you remember.
I think all of that has only made me doubt MORE. How is it possible to have learned so much, to have gained confidence as a writer and at the same time lost it and question everything?
I’m beginning to see that this is just a natural part of the publishing process for some of us. It’s a piece of this job. So now the job grows to include ways of getting past this.
So each morning when I sit down at the café table to write, I have to make the daily effort to sweep the doubts away. I don’t look in the mirror at the monster. I avoid picturing the road ahead. I try very, very hard to think nothing about the after.
I have to think only of the here-and-now, which is all any of us can control anyway. The here-and-now of writing this draft at this café table this morning.
My ways to cure creeping doubt include:
Rereading one of the books that inspired me to become a writer, or even a page from it, a little dip into that memorable magic and then slipping the book back in place on the shelf…
Reading an inspiring book on the process of writing (I’ve been carrying Still Writing by Dani Shapiro for weeks now, reading it in pieces in the mornings before I write)…
Listening to a happy-making song on repeat with headphones in and bopping around on the chair to myself…
Talking with a fellow writer and discovering, oh wow, she has the same worries I do and this is perfectly normal and I am not alone…
Talking with your best reader, the person who loves everything you write and believes in you (I hope you have this person—it could be your partner, your best friend, your agent, your mom) and let yourself hear the good, let the good outweigh any worries you have over any bad…
Find an old letter or email where someone said something amazing about something you wrote and read it once more, like it’s the first time. It helps to keep a little folder of these for future moments…
Close your eyes, picture the finished book in your hands, the one you will write, the one you absolutely will finish one day, and let yourself appreciate that feat that you know you will achieve…
Picture yourself as you were before, when all of this writing stuff was only a far-flung figment of your imagination. I like to picture myself at age 14–15, out in the woods behind my house with a notebook, this small-town girl who’d never even seen a real-live author in person, who loved to read and would never have really expected she would end up here, where I am right now, a WRITER. I think, to see me now, she would have cried in delight…
Fellow writers, those of you who share my affliction, help me out here: What cures your writing doubts and how do you face down your doubt monster?
Inspiration isn’t what gets your book written. Discipline is.
Inspiration is fickle: it shows up when you least expect it, all sexy and exhilarating and reminding you why you put your butt in that chair and turned off Tumblr and forced yourself to trudge through the valley of no-good, very-bad first drafts. Enjoy that inspiration while it’s there. Enjoy it thoroughly because it is rare and precious.
Just don’t expect it to show up every day. The only thing that needs to show up every day is yourself—and your determination to see this through to the very end.
“People give you a hard time about being a kid at twelve. They didn’t want to give you Halloween candy anymore. They said things like, ‘If this were the Middle Ages, you’d be married and you’d own a farm with about a million chickens on it.’ They were trying to kick you out of childhood. Once you were gone, there was no going back, so you had to hold on as long as you could.”—― Heather O’Neill, Lullabies for Little Criminals
“If you have any young friends who aspire to become writers, the second greatest favor you can do them is to present them with copies of The Elements of Style. The first greatest, of course, is to shoot them now, while they’re happy.
– Dorothy Parker”—(via thetinhouse)
“If I’d had children and had a girl, the first words I would have taught her would have been “fuck off” because we weren’t brought up ever to say that to anyone, were we? And it’s quite valuable to have the courage and the confidence to say, “No, fuck off, leave me alone, thank you very much.”—
If there were a Mount Rushmore of 20th-century authors, Doris Lessing would most certainly be carved upon it. Like Adrienne Rich, she was pivotal, situated at the moment when the gates of the gender disparity castle were giving way, and women were faced with increased freedoms and choices, as well as increased challenges.
She was political in the most basic sense, recognizing the manifestations of power in its many forms. She was spiritual as well, exploring the limits and pitfalls that came with being human, especially after she became an adherent of Sufism. As a writer she was inventive and brave…
As we age, we face a choice of caricatures; for women writers vis à vis younger ones, it’s Cruella De Vil versus Glinda the Good. I encountered my share of Cruellas along the way, but Doris Lessing was one of the Glindas. In that respect, she was an estimable model. And she was a model also for every writer coming from the back of beyond, demonstrating – as she so signally did – that you can be a nobody from nowhere, but, with talent, courage, perseverance through hard times, and a dollop of luck, you can scale the topmost storyheights.