You know, Kate Walbert's comment that writing workshops have given women permission to write--where previously the, oh let's call it the cliche of male genius was, say, subjugating women into thinking only Norman Mailer and F. Scott Fitzgerald could do it--has really got me thinking.

She's so right.

It was such a little wrestling match for me, in graduate school, to commit to writing: it was all about whether or not I had the authority to write a book at all, and I think most women go through this. The devaluation of domestic, "feminine" subject matter in contrast to the centrality given to epic "masculine" content, the blatant and apalling sexism from professors and students alike, and the lack of women represented in the highest echelon of American letters--none of this helps you get the words on the page either.

But women keep at it--the writing workshop phenomenon is pretty gendered. Most workshops I've been in have been pretty heavily women, and the ones that I teach have been as well. Counter this with the guys I know around New York--I can think of four of them off the top of my head, two of them published--who have written novels and have never set foot in a workshop.

Very, very interesting.


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