I am currently writing a children’s biography of Mark Colter, a woman architect in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. A reader challenged me on  a sentence that women to succeed had to be better than men.

This sent me to the Introduction of The First American Women Architects by Sarah Allabeck. While Allabeck doesn’t state it as a fact, she outlines how few woman were accepted in the American Institute of Architects. At least two were voted in because the all male membership thought they were men. Many women, including Mary Colter, signed their names with only their initials, so no one could identify whether they were men or women.

I’ve heard Helen Thomas, the first woman to be assigned to the elite group of the White House press corps. She weathered many storms to  became its icon and most famous member. She had to prove herself to the men.

 This also sent me to thinking of my own experience. In the mid1970s I signed on as a stringer for a daily newspaper and covered western Montgomery County in New York. When I first appeared at a town or village board meeting, I was the only female reporter, and sometimes the only female in the room. To establish myself as a reporter, I only had my writing. I know I felt I had to work to turn out truthful unbiased articles to be accepted by the boards I covered, or they would never give me news not covered at a meeting.

There are other facts to prove this case. Can you think of them? Did you experience one?

Find a Writers Group

Writing can be a lonely occupation or in some cases, an obsession. For me, I need an outlet. I need someone to read what I’ve written, to comment, and frankly, to cheer me on. Meeting regularly with a writers group can provide this outlet. I am fortunate to have a group that fulfills my needs.

My group is one which is particularly geared to helping one another to be published. We listen to and carefully critique one another. Recently, I asked them to help me cut words from a picture book manuscript that was too long. I came away with over one hundred words fewer in manuscript. Tightened it is a far better piece.

Some writers groups are for beginning writers, who want to learn to put a story together, whether it is a short story, a memoir, a poem, or a novel. If you want to write, I urge you find the group that meets your needs. If you attend one and you don’t feel comfortable, don’t be discouraged. There are others. You will find strength in others who are anxious to grow in their writing, too.