Our blog topic this week is dealing with professional jealousy in the writing industry. But I’m going to flip that topic around and talk about building a sisterhood in the writing industry. I know that jealousy is a normal human emotion and we all feel it from time to time, but since I’ve been on this publishing journey, I’ve felt nothing but love and support from my fellow writers and readers—my sisterhood. Seven years ago when I was flailing with a bloated 700-page manuscript, it was the women of my church book club who spent their time reading the draft of The Talking Drum, just as they would read any of our other monthly book selections. They gave me a brutally honest critique. At every step, as I’ve dealt with rejection and disappointment, they’ve hung in there with me giving me words of encouragement to keep me going.
After seven years of looking for a publisher and considering giving up on the novel as I had written it and starting from scratch, it was a small feminist press in Canada that believed in my story, offered me a contract, and worked closely with me to fine tune my story and get it polished for publication.
Knowing of my publisher’s limited budget for promotion, I hired a publicist who has done a great job championing me. She has worked relentlessly to shine the spotlight on The Talking Drum, which has led to the book being featured in high-profile publications I never imagined it would be.
Becoming a deb for The Debutante Ball Blog has shown me what real sisterhood is all about. Amy Klein, Kathleen West, Yodassa Williams, Karen Osborne and I champion each other, helping each other to propel our books forward to the reading audience.
During an interview recently with Feminist Book Club podcast, I was asked for my definition of feminism. Here’s, in part, what I said:
To be a feminist means to be part of a sisterhood. For women to look out for each other, to be supportive of each other. I think for generations, even centuries, society has influenced women to be at odds with each other, for us to compete and compare ourselves. To be a feminist is to feel good about yourself, to have confidence and to be a cheerleader for other women, as opposed to being jealous and critical of other women when there is no reason for it. We need to celebrate each other, support each other, be there for each other. I think that being a feminist also means seeing your value, your worth and standing up for it in the workplace, and in your relationships.
Championing each other means also going outside of your circle of familiarity. Whenever I have a chance I support and promote the works of other writers through purchasing their books and sharing the great news about them on social media. This is some of the most important work we writers can do.