BREAKTHROUGH: Women in Writing by Diana Gleasner

BREAKTHROUGH: Women in Writing

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Sobbing, Judy Blume hauled her heavy electric typewriter to the edge of the canyon, behind her New Mexico home. 'I'm through,' she said to herself. 'I'll never write again.' Trembling with effort, the 101-pound woman lifted the machine as high as she could."" ""Alone at fifteen! The possibility was disturbing. Phyllis [Whitney] pushed it out of her mind. Whatever happened, whatever was going to happen, she would have to be ready for it."" Thus, in true conformity to Whitney's rules for fiction writing, does Gleasner begin her five profiles of successful women writers. What do we learn? That Judy Blume tried writing popular songs and sold felt nursery pictures to Bloomingdale's and had 20 children's books rejected before Bradbury agreed to publish a revision of Iggie's House. That Erma Bombeck still scrubs her own john, plus stumping for the ERA. That Erica Jong, before her present marriage to the man she then lived with, got ""a sudden urge to exchange vows"" whenever she read a ""terrible"" review of her books. (Jon, good head that he is, would point out that ""a matrimonial contract would not stop the bad reviews."") All five writers say writing is hard work which does not come easily; and all complain about the sock-sorting chores or parental guilt or lower expectations that plague a housebound woman writer. Jessamyn West contributes some thoughtful remarks about herself and about writing in general, but the rest is gush-level. (And the West chapter begins: ""Jessamyn looked at the blood she had coughed up. More trouble. Hadn't she had enough problems with her health?"") Then there is the matter of the choice of subjects, an odd mix whatever one's assessment of the individuals.

Pub Date: June 13th, 1980
Publisher: Walker