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Book Review: Women Writing for (a) Change by Mary Pierce Brosmer

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Is there more we could be doing as writers? Finding more time for creativity, writing better, publishing more, and reaching more readers? Could we display more concern over meaningful issues instead of following the faces that twitter across our computer screens?

A new book tells me the answer is “Yes.” We could all be doing something deeper, more meaningful, and passing our energies from one to another, like a radiant circle of light from a single candle.

Women Writing for (a) Change, by Mary Pierce Brosmer, is about the creation and development of a “social purpose” school in the conscious feminine tradition of “both/and,” not either or nor.

While informative and revealing in itself, the book is also a building tool for those eager to follow the path Brosmer lays out, divided into four parts: Foundational Stories, Groundwork, Change Writing, and Conscious Feminine Leadership.

What began with a few women in Cincinnati, Ohio in 1991 now helps hundreds of women and girls around the country. It has spawned subsidiary organizations including:

  • Women Writing for (a) Change Foundation
  • Young Women Writing for (a) Change
  • Consulting for (a) Change
  • The Feminist Leadership Academy of Cincinnati, and
  • Women Writing for (a) Change schools in eight states across the U.S.

Brosmer explains the development of Women Writing for (a) Change and guides us to create the same opportunities for the making and telling of stories, following her conscious feminine and linguistic leadership.

The foundation begins with a quiet gathering place to write, among women who dare to revel in the complexity of nature and culture. Built on a foundation of women's poems, dreams, and journal entries, braided through the many layers of women's writing through the ages, from breaking silence and finding our voice to rethinking the maternal and moving from resistance to transformation:

"Collectively, women are empowered by their ability to challenge oppressive systems and roles. And isn’t writing the perfect vehicle to express our singular and collective thoughts and dreams?"

Honoring Brosmer’s goal of keeping the conscious feminine alive, could we all reach a little farther with our writing to help eradicate what she calls the “invisible patterning of family, school, church” and more, all contributing to the suppression of the feminine?

Our goal as women writing our thoughts, in private or in public, is to bear witness to the transformative power of our conscious writing and connect with nature and culture, following the path where our words lead us.

As Brosmer brings women together to write, always in a circle, she guides us past the surface of our writing, past the doors opened by Julia Cameron‘s The Artist’s Way, past Natalie Goldberg, Writing Down The Bones to change… and to truth. Brosmer credits her program’s success to two critical components in the school: “the quality of attention we bring to our lives because we have set our intentions to write,” and “the inspiration of the other women in the classes whose words evoke our words.”

In “Groundwork,” doors open and close and we rise up to take ourselves seriously. As Brosmer explains the methods for the Women Writing for (a) Change classes, beyond writing prompts and exercises:

“It is the primary presence of women to one another that is the greatest stimulation to the growth of individual writers.”

Women Writing for (a) Change includes major passages of Brosmer’s own personal reflections, dreams and poems amidst the narrative structure, as she teaches us to find greater meaning in our writing.

Women Writing for (a) Change is a serene landing place for those writing professionally, to help us reach a higher level, and also for the many, many writers who long to be heard more than be published.

The book concludes with a generous Appendix of materials including resources and sample agendas for classes and meetings

Perhaps the impact of Women Writing for (a) Change is best said by one of the group’s writers:

 

“We are like a mother’s anniversary ring, sparkling with the colors, sharing brilliance. There is strength in the setting that holds these jewels in this circle, a strength that can’t be broken by societal pressure.”

Throughout Women Writing for (a) Change, we witness a reverence for words and the rituals that remind us of their power and our need for expression – our need to become conscious of our thought. “Boundaries create the space for reverence,” she quotes from Parker J. Palmer in To Know As We Are Known: A Spirituality of Education.

Women Writing for (a) Change is an opportunity for all of us to examine our commitments and explore writing with a sense of social consciousness, a sense of community and with time to reflect and write what is true. We can stretch outward to reach that greater ear of culture and nature.

As Brosmer suggests, we should write better words to create the better world we so radically need.

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About Helen Gallagher