It’s always gratifying as an author to receive feedback and validation about your book. I’m speaking of a compliment, an award, a good review, a referral, a speaking engagement, a book signing, recognition by your peers. These are definitely “feel goods.” Recently, my associate Lynn Centeno and I received a different kind of feedback – a most unusual and heartfelt kind – as a result of our book All Ways A Woman.
By way of background: Our purpose in doing the book was to honor, celebrate, and inspire women by depicting a woman’s journey, universal yet personal, via original story poems and watercolors. A few weeks ago, a social media post and an email came across my computer screen that made me think, our book is right on. Let me explain.
We’ve all heard of the human response “fight or flight.” A Facebook post which I highlight below came into my feed – a quote from Rebecca Solnit’s book The Mother of All Questions. It states that women won’t necessarily choose the above response but instead will seek the support of other women, particularly in times of stress. It reinforced parts of our book’s content. Quote:
For a century, the human response to stress and danger has been defined as “fight or flight.” A 2000 UCLA study by several psychologists noted that this research was based largely on studies of male rats and male human beings. But studying women led them to a third, often deployed option: gather for solidarity, support, advice. They noted that “behaviorally, females’ responses are more marked by a pattern of ‘tend-and-befriend.'” (Thank you to Iris Anderson for sharing Anne Hathaway’s FB post.)
Then I received this email from nybookeditors.com titled “Your Guide to Writing Women.” This post was addressed to authors on how to create a strong woman character without her simply being “a dude wearing a skirt.” Their first premise? Women like to feel safe and will seek or create a place of safety. Their second premise? Women desire to serve in strong roles, not in a subservient way, but from a place of power: mothers, teachers, doctors, leadership roles, volunteerism. For women, ego does not seem to be the driving force.
Our book depicts a woman’s journey and culminates with ideas mentioned above. The second last poem in the book speaks to the desire to serve in a non-subservient way. The piece is called “A Woman’s Hands.” The last poem in the book, “The Gift of the Gathering,” speaks to the female response of ‘tend-and-befriend.’ It addresses how women gather together and gift each other with support.
It was gratifying to know we had done this work by instinct and intuition only to have these two sources – one scientific and one literary – reinforce our thoughts. A serendipitous happening. And validating.
But a final reward was yet in the offing. A friend who had recently lost her husband and was in the throes of this very deep loss, came to one of our events held last year on Valentine’s Day. She purchased several books, one of which was given to a special girlfriend of hers. A year later, my friend called to tell me she had something she wanted me to see. I stopped by her home full of curiosity and was stunned. She had been gifted with the beautiful quilt shown below created by the friend to whom she had given our book. The quilt had been inspired by their friendship and our creative work.
The quilt celebrates a lovely woman, a supportive friendship, and a true love. This is “tend-and-befriend” at its best, at its most inspiring. It’s also our book giving back to us in a way never imagined. We’re humbled.
Thank you to my friend Eleanor for sharing this beautiful gift. And thank you to her friend Lydia for her quilting artistry and heartfelt way of supporting her friend.
When your book gives back … it’s truly special.
And if you’re in the desert on March 14, we will be presenting at the Palm Springs Library at 6:30 pm. Thanks for stopping by.