Yesterday was International Women’s Day, making this a great week to honor our female writing mentors. Following my post on slam poet Sarah Kay, I want to reiterate how necessary it is to remember the incredible women who shape our reading and writing experience. There is (or was, if the author is no longer with us) an actual person behind each word and punctuation mark.
I am lucky enough that my two favorite female authors are both alive: Sarah Monette aka Katherine Addison (who I’ve written about countless times on this blog) and Roxane Gay. Sarah Monette writes almost exclusively speculative fiction (mainly fantasy: The Doctrine of Labyrinths series, The Goblin King, Somewhere Beneath These Waves (stories), The Bone Key (stories)). Roxane Gay is a culture critic and writes both fiction (An Untamed State) and nonfiction (writing op-eds for the New York Times, her collection of essays Bad Feminist, and upcoming memoir Hunger).
Both writers give me the courage to live with questions and not be afraid to write them down and explore the possibilities. They inspire me to quest after the horror and violence of the everyday, the horror and violence within ourselves which we’d rather shut up and instead must embrace to write something true. I admire these writers for their willingness to write the realities of rape and trauma but above all to write survivors. The stories Gay and Monette write emerge out of our flaws and yet are ultimately stories of hope and overcoming what seems insurmountable. Both writers give me the courage to be a writer, a female writer, and a female writer of speculative fiction. Because though this writer might be afraid of what she’ll discover as she types new words and new worlds, she’ll never stop believing that at the heart of writing and speculative fiction is truth.
And though it is terrifying tell your favorite female authors how much their work means to you (after all, what will you ever be able to say to them?) they are people and they are people worthy of celebration. They have brought you something true. If your favorite female author is alive, write to them and tell them how much their work has influenced you. If they are not alive, write anyway in their memory.
The purpose of fiction is to tell the truth by lying […] And if I believe anything about storytelling, it’s that you have to care about the truth behind your lies. — Sarah Monette