By Miranda Roszkowski
100 years after getting the Vote, 100 female writers share their story
Sunday, 29 March 2020
Cheer in times of change. And change again.
*News flash* This Tuesday 31 March at 6.30pm UK time we are coming to your house! 100 Voices writers are sharing stories at the online Stay At Home literary festival and you’re invited. Click this link at 6.30pm. Please do tell your friends to come along to find out about what we do and help us in the last push to get our book of 100 women writers funded.
But before we get to that, how are you?
It’s been a week. And I am sure many of you on our 300 strong supporters list are finding things hard, or at least a little uncomfortable in the way that you get when you know you should change out of your damp exercise-wear but you’d rather eat biscuits in the kitchen. Or maybe, like my friend Gemma who loves staying at home, you’re fine. You just wish you could get hold of some toilet roll.
It’s fair to say this #womenshistorymonth hasn’t quite gone to plan. What started with a huge rally of amazing people around the world championing everything we hold dear - empowerment, sharing stories, meeting like-minded people and high fives, all the high fives. Well that all ended quite abruptly. It couldn’t happen now. It feels like maybe it never happened at all... Might it happen in future? We hope.
And we hope some more. You, me, each of our 100 contributors (at least 2 of whom are recovering from Covid - sending love) we all batten down and go on hoping. To paraphrase Flannery O’Connor, US short story goddess and inspiration for 100 Voices writer Rebecca Rouillard in her piece Half Smiling, writers have to be full of hope because they “simply won’t survive the ordeal” of writing. And what's more,
“People without hope not only do not write stories , they do not read them.”
Stories will get us though this. Stories are more important now than ever. We draw in them for distraction, for inspiration and for lessons we need now. Sarah Armstrong, a medic on the front line of a war zone (and now corona) can teach us about the Physiology of Fear and finding a strength you didn’t have, Usha Rowan, a Ugandan refugee who first used her Fork and Knife skills to impress the British, can remind us its good to learn new things. And Jo Howard, who will be reading her story Entwined on Tuesday can give us all a laugh about managing a very full household. All on our podcast.
You’re hopeful people - we know that because you’ve invested in sharing the stories of 100 women writers through our book. Some who wouldn’t be published without it, others who have told us a story they may never have otherwise shared. So here's a turn up for the books. We were gearing up for a huge finale of wonderful events as we approach the end of our crowdfunder in June. Not so much now. But - and this is even better in a way - we ARE doing an event at your house! So join us Tuesday 31 March at 6.30 pm via the brilliant Stay At Home festival set up by novelist CJ Cooke to combat loneliness, champion connection and celebrate books. Our session is called Finding your voice (and getting it heard). We’ll be reading from the book and taking your questions about publishing, how to get your work out there, whether it’s possible to write at all when your kids are home from school... and how we can keep positive in these tricky times. Click this link at 6.30 (or click it now and see what's on at the festival right now).
Join poets Deborah Martin in Glasgow, and Sallyanne Rock in Solihull, fiction writers Jo Howard in Manchester and Susmita Bhattacharya in Southampton and me in a narrow boat on the outskirts of London. We’d love some friendly faces in the crowd. And tell your friends to come along and - if they like it - hopefully buy the book!
Here’s the link in case.
After us, author Maggie O’Farrell is going to be launching her new book at the festival so stick around and we can chat in the bar*
In the meantime if you want a bit of light relief from the news, we’ve been sharing snippets of our 100 Voices stories on twitter and Instagram and you can still listen to our podcast - there are 100 episodes so you’ll be set until July- in the link.
Also if you can’t get enough of the BBC theme tune I highly recommend watching @rachleary raving in her kitchen to it.
Or, just read a book. Let us know what you’re reading on social media.
See you on Tuesday, team 100 Voices!
*Your living room and my boat respectively