She Writes is coming to an end today. The series – which have run for the last three months – have given me the opportunity to interview women authors from all over the world and ask them questions that really matters in the current state of the world with women and artists being systematically undervalued. The aim of the interviews was to throw some light into what it means to be a woman who writes, and how the writing is interwoven with the reading and the works of women. My ultimate goal with the series was to bring together a group of women whose work I admire and get them talking about their process and their interests. I will never get tired of saying that contemporary writers are my favourite writers just because they are alive. It is of the utmost necessity for them and for us to support their work and let them know that we appreciate them.
Working with all the women who agreed to answer my questions for She Writes has been a dream come true. Today, as the series come to an end, another dream has come true as well. If you have been following this blog for some time, you will know that Margaret Atwood has been one of my favourite authors for a long time now (click here to see all the reviews). A kind reader pointed my review of Cat’s Eye to her and she must have liked it, because she started following the blog on Twitter (yes reader, I freaked out a bit). When She Writes was only on its early production stages, I contacted Atwood to see if she would answer some questions about her life as a woman author, and she kindly said yes and got her answers back to me in a few hours.
Margaret Atwood needs no introduction. She is one of the best and most undervalued contemporary writers. She is the author of Alias Grace, The Handmaid’s Tale, and Cat’s Eye among many other novels, poems and essays. She has recently added an Emmy to her list of accolades, and she has still not won the Nobel Prize for Literature that she so much deserves. So, please join in welcoming her to bring an end to She Writes while we celebrate all the women authors who have kindly participated in the series.
Currently on your nightstand?
THE HOUSE OF GOVERNMENT. Yuri Slezkine
ON TRUTH: Orwell
REDEFINING REALNESS. Janet Mock
And about 20 others.
Favourite book by a woman writer?
Can’t do that. I don’t do “favourites.” The others get mad.
Where do you find inspiration to write?
I’m a writer. It’s what I do. After 70 years it’s too late to be a ballet dancer or a marine biologist. I suppose “life” is too general an answer…??
What is your routine for writing?
Oh fall on my knees and wish I had one! In general: Plunge in. Thrash about. Get hands dirty. When drowning, grab the line. Ski downhill very fast. Re-write about 6 times. If it isn’t working by about page 100, put it in a drawer + start anew.
Name three things you can’t live without when writing:
Coffee. Coffee. Coffee. (And pieces of paper.)
What are you reading next?
The world lies all before me where to choose. (Paraphrase of Milton.) In other words, I don’t know. Maybe some poetry. Or about 10 novels waiting for me in the in-box…
What does being ‘a woman writer’ mean to you?
“Writer” is the noun. “Woman” is the adjective. It’s sort of like asking “what does being a woman person mean to you”? Women come in myriads of forms, physical, economic, cultural, age-related, and on and on. They are not a homogenous lump, any more than people are.
But being a woman person or writer – though it should not confine – does influence the way others view you. For better or for worse.
Words of wisdom about writing for your younger self:
Keep going. It will work out. Appreciate the view more: you only go this way once.
Special thanks go to Emma Anderson for donating her art for the series. As usual, this project would not have been possible without all the readers who support this blog and what it stands for. Here’s to a 2018 full of women writers!