Three Women Writers on Supporting Each Other

Cheryl Strayed, Suzy Vitello, and Lidia Yuknavitch are all successful writers who are over 40 and live in Portland. Their writing careers are wildly different — Strayed wrote the bestselling Wild, Vitello is a newly-published YA author, and Yuknavitch writes weirder, indie stuff like the beloved Chronology of Water — but they are all longtime friends who met in a writing group (with Chuck Palahniuk!) almost a decade ago. Rebecca Rubenstein interviewed all three of them for Buzzfeed about how they support each other both as friends and professionally. It is lovely to read about:

SV: Cheryl has been my champion over and over. Connecting me with folks. Singing my praises, reading my work even! In New York! Telling the world that I was the best writer without a book in Portland. But now, I do have a book. So ha!

CS: One of my favorite memories of Lidia and Suzy is in May 2009, when I sold Wild to Knopf based on the first 130 pages of the book. I was flying to NYC to meet my editor for the first time, but I was absolutely flat broke and I couldn’t go shopping for something nice to wear. So Suzy and Lidia came over to my house with heaps of their nicest clothes, and I tried them on and modeled them and together we decided what I should wear. I borrowed a shirt from Lidia, and Suzy gave me a skirt and jacket of hers. It was so sweet. I went to NYC and had my fancy meetings with my editor and I could feel their love there with me, because I was wearing their clothes.

LY: SHARING CLOTHES! That was so cool. I’m probably not supposed to say out loud that these women are among a handful of women who have helped me put food on the table or gas in my car when I was fucking broke and ashamed and desperate. But they did.

I love this, from Lidia Yuknavitch, whose books I need to finally finally read:

I’m pretty sure the three of us represent three different trajectories in terms of publishing experiences… it’s been eye-opening, to say the least, to share our different stories (am I right, you guys?). It helps me remember to shout as often as possible, “THERE IS NO ONE PATH.”

What Cheryl and Suzy and the writers and artists and musicians who have helped me along — including readers — do for me as a writer is insist that, yes, you too have a place at the table. You too are worth a crap. Your stories can sit next to all stories. When I’m most afraid though, it also helps to sit near other women struggling to survive as writers. Suzy and Cheryl are women writers writing for their lives. They know what’s at stake.

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