Step 2: If we are women who write- who are we want to read our writing?
I think a lot of us who write start to put down words before we really think about why we are writing and who we are writing for. Instead of starting right away, I think we need to ask some questions about who we want to read our writing. We need to wonder about who the women are. Are they young or old? Are they white women? Are they Women of Colour? Native women? Black women? How do we know what race these women are?
Are these women working in paid jobs? What kind of jobs? How well do they read? Do they like to read? Do they live in families? What kind of families do they have? Are they lesbian? Do they have children?
Are these women physically disabled? Do they pay for our writing or do they pick it up somewhere? Where do they live? Why do they live there?
What kind of music do these women like? Do they dance? Do they laugh a lot? Do they like to eat good food? What kind of food? Are they fat women?
What do we need to know about women that will help us write well for them?
Many women say that we can not write for all the women, everywhere. If we try to include everyone, we get too many details and we are sure to leave out somebody. But if we are too general, nobody feels included and the writing seems boring and useless.
I agree that it is hard to write for every woman in everything we do. On the other hand, I also think it is too easy to write as if there is just one group of women the women who are like the writer.
It is true. We know what we look like. We know if we go to school, if we work, if we have very much money. We know what kinds of families we have, what kinds of things we like to eat, where we go shopping and who washes our clothes.
We know about ourselves. But what do we know about anyone who is different from ourselves? And if we know some things about other women, how did we find out? Did we talk to women who are different from ourselves and ask them about their lives? Did we ask them what they want to read about? Did we ask them if they can understand what we say when we talk? Did we show them some of our writing and ask them what they think about it?
If we do not know the women we are writing for, how are we going to know how to talk with them? Why are we writing for them, anyway? Why do we think we know enough about anyone else's lives to write things that are important for them?
These are very hard questions. And we can decide not to answer them. We can decide that we can not write for anyone who is different from ourselves and just carry on writing like we always did.
Or we can start writing with women who are different from ourselves. They will tell us, as we write together, that we are not writing about the lives of women like them.