Tag Archives: change

2012 Litquake: Women Writing for Change

Litquake 2012

 
For those of you who missed my presentation, here’s the introduction of my discussion about women writing for change presented during the opening day of Litquake, as part of the Off the Richter Scale series:

A woman who writes for change is unafraid of taking on the challenges of the real world and exploring solutions through her writing. As a writer of women’s fiction, my stories tend to focus on how the larger world affects the character’s smaller world. For example, my latest novel, Out of Balance, grew out of my interest in how the Great Recession impacted women, particularly women forced into the workplace like my narrator, Beverly Mael, who was content being a stay-at-home wife and mother until her husband became unemployed.

Men lost 3 times as many jobs as women in 2009, according to Falling behind: the Impact of the Great Recession and the Budget Crisis on California’s Women and Their Families, published by the California Budget Project. This research coincides with a study conducted by Pew Research Center in 2010, in which 22 percent of women were found to out earn their husbands. This phenomenon is not limited to any socio-economic class. It is culturally pervasive. In the June 2012 issue of Allure magazine, actress Elizabeth Banks discusses what it feels like to be a woman who out earns her husband. “It’s not easy,” Banks says. “We’re the first generation to do it. And it’s very ingrained even in our DNA that men are hunter-gatherers who are meant to go off and provide. And that we are really meant to stay at home and have kids…We’re all figuring the same thing out.”

My interviews with women confirmed what Banks expressed: it is true that more women are employed and earning more than their male counterparts, but a lot of them feel ambivalent about their role as breadwinners. They no longer have the luxury to take a lower-paying job that’s more fulfilling or stay home and raise their children. They have to work. The men I spoke with are just as confused and disheartened by being thrown into the role of primary caretakers. They are learning how to be room parents and tutors and chauffeurs, chefs and housekeepers and bookkeepers. Both men and women have had their worlds thrown out of balance.

To discover how one couple adapted to their new roles, read Out of Balance, available in hardback, paperback, and e-book (Nook, Kindle, and other formats).

Change the World

It's a Circle

I don’t often talk about what inspires me. It’s difficult to share something so personal. I always assume it’s irrelevant to others. But sometimes it’s necessary to understand how something comes about, especially when it surprises you.

During the Thursday night Art Faire, several people came by my booth and looked through my cards. I can predict the perennial favorites: ocean scenes and flowers. What surprised me tonight was the interest in my avant garde piece. A blue spiral. Beneath the spiral, it read, “A single sentence can change the world…” and inside it read, “Thank you for changing my world.”

The card was inspired by my autistic son. For years he never spoke. Then, one day, out of blue, he said, “It’s a circle.” It’s one of the few sentences he can say on his own without prompting. Although I hear the sentence as frequently as a Top 10 song on the radio, each time Gabriel says it, the sentence sounds miraculously new. It literally changes my world.

When I was trying to think of new greeting cards to paint, I woke up in the middle of the night thinking, “It’s a circle.” I padded into the kitchen and turned on the light and wrote: It’s a circle. I drew a spiral above it. In the morning, I got out the scrap of paper and wrote on a new greeting card, “A single sentence can change the world…” I painted the spiral above it. Then inside the card, I wrote as a tribute to my son, “Thank you for changing my world.”

Simple, sweet, and heartfelt. I just didn’t know it would mean anything to anyone else.

On the back of the card, instead of signing my name, I wrote, “Second Thoughts Buddha.” I had been reading a lot of Buddhist literature, weaving it into the Christianity I already followed, getting back to the other half of my life which I had never really known. Of course, because I wrote the second sentence I thought of and not the first, it seemed only natural to write Second Thoughts Buddha instead of First Thoughts Buddha. The first thought was my son’s sentence, “It’s a circle.” My second thought was, “ A single sentence can change the world.”

My son has changed my world. With his single sentence. May someone somewhere change yours.