This letter is about what Women Writers, Women Books means to its editor, within the context of her life.
I grew up moving.
Moved when I was 1, 2, 3, 5 and we kept moving. Cambridge, Massachusetts. London, England. Cambridge, Massachusetts. Amman, Jordan. Port Said, Egypt.
And on. And on. So many places I had to write a list down and memorize it, to know how to say where we’d been.
Moving changes a person. Just like pulling up a plant leaves some roots behind, and could kill the plant, moving affects people.
It also can open a person’s mind.
Open perspective. Joggle judgement – as in judging others. Splinter unquestioned self-confidence – as in I know what’s right, and my way of doing things is the only way that’s right.
Not only did we move – my three siblings, my father and mother – we went into different schools.
Italian schools. French schools. International schools. American schools. Correspondence schools. Boarding schools.
We studied different languages. Italian, French, Arabic, English.
Not only were we moving and marinating in different languages and cultures, our mother herself was like us.
Mom was also the daughter of a diplomat, moving, getting dipped in different ways. Her father was Italian, and her mother, American. And, to make things more complex, her mother was an expatriate – she lived in Panama in Central America.
This life of multi-generational moving and living outside one’s country was deeply informing. Established a precedent, a pattern, an inclination towards building connections.
We built connections everywhere we went – across oceans, mountains, lakes and deserts; across English, French, Italian, Arabic, and later Spanish, Latin, Chinese; across religions – Episcopalean, Anglican, Roman Catholic, Greek Orthodox, Lutheran, Unitarian, Islam, Judaism, and later Daoism, Buddhism and many variations of Christianity; across levels of wealth – from the poor to the most wealthy and every variation in between; across educations from Harvard, to some who only did grade school; from the respectable – distinguished diplomats and professors to the despised.
There is value in making connections between us, across differences. There is value in humanizing each other through sharing words, in building gentle, mindful bridges.
I was born in the late 1950s, in the day when long distance phone calls were made through an operator, and cost ridiculous amounts of money, and we could only talk for a minute or two or five before it was too expensive. Telegrams were used for important messages. Weddings. Funerals. Births. Sickness. Big successes. Telegrams where each space, like in Twitter, counted. And unlike Twitter, where each space COST $.
Sometimes we were lucky and our friends stayed in the same place a whole year – sometimes, they left after a few months, or we left at the end of the school year.
Mostly, we had no more than 9 months to be with our friends, and then the deck got reshuffled, and some of us disappeared by Pan Am or TWA, or by boat or train.
No Internet. No email. No Facebook. No Twitter. No texting. No cell phone. Just international mail. Which sometimes came by boat and took a month if the postage was insufficient for Air Mail.
So letters were extraordinary.They arrived like water in the desert after a day of fasting with no food or drink at Ramadan. They arrived like food after a long mountain hike in Italy. They arrived like love, like being found after getting lost in the in the dark, or a foreign city like Athens. Like oxygen to someone who can barely breathe – like finally escaping the crawl spaces to the inner chambers of the Egyptian Pyramids.
Those letters meant everything.
Little life lines of words between friends; very much like the guest blog posts you are submitting for consideration for our online contemporary women writers’ magazine.
So every query I receive, every draft blog post, is like getting letters from afar – and is as exciting as the delight I felt as a young girl and woman – between 6 and 24 – when seeing an envelope addressed to me.
Sometimes your stories make me laugh. Sometimes they make me cry. Sometimes I smile with a peace and pleasure like spending an afternoon at a beautiful beach. (Sometimes, rarely, when the post isn’t personal to our magazine, our audience, our women writers, and you as a woman writer, then it’s discouraging; the opportunity we offer was missed.) Most of the time, it’s very satisfying.
Though almost all of us have books we want to sell. And those of us who don’t yet have books, hope to one day have books – to sell. Still the exchange is so much more than just a simple advertisement. In fact we require that your post share something of yourself, something of value about your writing life, that other women writers would want to read.
So all of this to say, your editor, Anora McGaha, comes naturally to this work of reaching out to you women writers around the world, inviting a variety of discourse that informs, entertains and creates new relationships.
All of this to say, what a very meaningful time this has been this year, getting to know you through Twitter; through your queries; through our editing and formatting, and ongoing exchanges on Twitter.
Guest blog posts for an online literary magazine for, by and about contemporary women writers, are like letters from an era long gone, for hearts and minds and souls that still need connection, understanding and recognition.
I hope you will share some of the value you have received, and carry the conversation forward.
Anora McGaha is a poet, writer and author. Her non-fiction essays have appeared in four anthologies, not including the Social Media for Business book she co-authored in 2011. Her poetry is mostly unpublished, while she is working on a poetry and prose manuscript called, (creatively!), Notes from a Life. Through ClearSight Creative Resources, her business, she is a publicist, writer, social media strategist and manager, as well as a micro-publisher. She started Women Writers, Women Books in 2011.
Sites That Link to this Post
- ArmchairBEA: Introductions : Women Writers, Women Books | June 5, 2012