Women’s Month, Women’s Writing Month, Women’s Week, what gives?
We deserve more than a month; we deserve years of appreciation and accolades for all the shit we have to put up with.
Let’s switch gears.
Isn’t it amazing what you can do when you decide to fly instead of walk?
I say decide because it ultimately is a decision. Right, we can’t actually sprout wings and fly. Imagine if I’d stayed at my old job, as a banker, working 40 hours a week busting my ass only to bring home 300 dollars every two weeks of disposable income. After paying for daycare, the mortgage, meals out, gas, etc, etc, etc, that’s really all I brought to the table.
When I first ventured outside my comfort zone, putting myself out there as a writer, so many people liked my Facebook page merely based on my profile picture. (It was of my face. So shut up before you even say it.) How stupid and ridiculous is that? Not that stupid. Not that ridiculous. And, to my surprise, not that uncommon. When I first started Sick Lit Magazine, I was still just as shocked at how many people visited the page only to click on my “Gravatar” and then leave without reading any of the stellar work we’ve published.
So, can women do serious journalism?
Yes. When we step out of the superimposed box. When we stop thinking of gender in terms of an indictment or definition of self. When we begin to work for ourselves and say what we really think.
We don’t exist just to serve as a face, body or walking caricature of what society thinks we are; nor do we simply exist to serve as baby vehicles and happy housewives, scrubbing that darn pan and selling Mary Kay!!
If you sell Mary Kay and are offended, you’ve missed my intent. When you begin a side project like Mary Kay, Avon, Eyelash Product (insert whatever here) Du Jour, Tupperware or colorful, microwave-safe, BPA-free dishes, you’re still working for the man, my love! You’re still getting a fraction of what you deserve! And look at what the hell you’re selling: cosmetics and kitchenware. All we do is put on makeup and cook and clean, right? (Oh and bleed. And have babies. And apparently, according to every stupid-ass movie I’ve seen, binge-eat ice cream when we break up with someone?!!! WTF? I used to cut my hair every time I had a break up. Fuck ice cream.)
I see so many women who think they’re only worth what’s on their surface; they become a machination of what corporate America and misogynists alike think they’re worth. Because they can’t see beyond that superimposed box that surrounds them. If that’s all you focus on in life, solely your appearance, at the end of the day when you lie down with yourself at night, you feel that hole in your heart.
Since I happen to have a gender-ambiguous first name, I’ve been on the receiving end of plenty of e-mails objectifying and shaming women. (Sorry that you hate your ex; welcome to life, my dear boys. It’s called everyone. Everyone hates an ex or two. Or three. Get over it and move on.)
I’m in a Starbucks with my husband and kids on a shitty, humid, cloudy Sunday (also known as Valentine’s Day).
I started Sick Lit Magazine just a short five months ago–with no clue as to the direction we would end up going; I just woke up one day and I knew what I had to do. I knew what I wanted to do. And I knew that I wanted to go the opposite of the places I’d been. So, if snotty literary agents turned right, I was going left. If uppity editors owned the building, I was going to do doughnuts in their parking lot.
Inspiration isn’t the kind of thing that you just get–you can’t grab a pre-packaged version at the grocery store on the corner. It, like its close relative happiness, is an intangible. Damn intangibles. So elusive. Plus, when you add the variable relativity to the mix, intangibles can seem impossible.
Intangibles cause so much trouble, don’t they? People go to great lengths in the hopes of reaching one. But, most likely, what’s impeding them from getting there is themselves.
Here’s a hint: Life doesn’t have a guidebook, road map or instructions for a reason. We’re supposed to bump our heads a bit and try again. We’re supposed to learn.
Listen, I fight against my own chronic illnesses and pain daily–I don’t always win. Quite often, I fall down and mess up. I lose my shit and scream and say things I swore I’d never say as a parent, much less an adult. We’re human; each one of us is flawed. Flaws, adversity and loneliness have strengthened each one of us. I may have to remind myself daily to leave the cynicism at home, but it’s still progress. We’re all works in progress, much like our writing, our music and our art.
Please know that I’m one of those people who doesn’t follow her own advice.
I know what it is to pour your soul into a project and have it ripped to shreds in front of you. I know the feeling of getting that hundredth auto-rejection letter from yet another agent. They tell you that your writing is weak. Or diluted. Or whatever. They tell you that you’re not strong enough and neither is your writing. But it is. And you are. Sure, some of the writing may be sloppy, that’s a given. But it doesn’t make you incapable of fixing it and making it better.
Without us, people wouldn’t have art to hang on their walls, books to read or music to blast in their cars or headphones.
I’m more than okay with admitting I’m complicated, complex and flawed. Because at the end of the day, when I lie down to go to sleep at night, I have to be able to live with myself, right?
And I refuse to, as a woman, be taken at face value (“just another blonde”). I’m more than Michael Coody’s wife. I’m more than Nikki’s mom or Jackson’s mom.
I’m Kelly. I have a name. I also had a different last name before I got married. I have depth. I speak multiple languages. I don’t have an easy answer to the conversation starter, “So, where are you from?” That’s okay. It’s what makes me who I am.
I read a quote recently that said, “The person who broke you cannot be the one to fix you.” I hate this quote. No one can break me. No one. Ever. They can try; they can hurt me; but I will persist. I will exist. I will live. They may hate to see my name, my face, but that speaks volumes about them, not me. No one has the ability to break you, either. Take the reigns of your own life back and stop feeling like a slave to the system. Write. Paint. Love. Enjoy. Live your life the way you want to; not the way society tells you to live.
I’ve been through a lot in my 32 years on this planet and I know that I have much more in store for me. Hell, my kids are only 7 and 3 – they haven’t even hit double digits yet.
If you saw me walking down the street in my skinny jeans and Adidas trainers, you’d probably mistake me for some hipster kid (or maybe just a hipster wannabe. I’m not that cool.)
It just further proves that you can’t judge a book by its cover.
I couldn’t be more thrilled to host Women’s Month/Women’s Writing Month. You ladies inspire me daily–you’re a wealth of unique, spirited talent; and proof that the pen is, in fact, mightier than the sword.
Please enjoy some spectacular writing and art this March. I’m keeping submissions open–continue to send in ideas, questions, writing, art, etc, for Women’s Writing Month and all the other remaining themes.
Oh, hell, let me just post the theme schedule again below:
I’m one of those rare nerds who actually enjoys editing; and I’ve loved reading (almost) every single piece I’ve received for 2016 thus far. You guys are inspirational. So as much as it might be intangible, it is also contagious. An editor who loves her job is happy to have a full inbox. An editor who hates her job snarls at it.
Readers, writers, contributors and SLM enthusiasts, continue doing what you’re doing.
Because you’re damn good at it.
*Just to clarify, we’re staying open to unsolicited submissions until further notice–send everything to firstname.lastname@example.org*
Kelly Fitzharris Coody
*I may wear many hats, but I always wear the same sunglasses.*