Today I’m launching a new feature here at See Jane Write — Media Maven, a series of interviews with women in media. I’ll be talking with women in newspapers, magazines, television, radio, online publications and more.
To kick things off I had a talk with Robin Colter, creative director of B-Metro magazine, a publication for which I write a monthly column. Even though Robin has been editing my work for years I didn’t know much about her journalism journey so I was eager to hear her story.
You’ve heard the saying before: To be a writer all you have to do is write.
But what should you do when you realize that you’re a writer who doesn’t write?
You know what I mean. You used to write all the time then life got in the way and now you can’t remember the last time you put pen to paper or fingertips to keyboard (that wasn’t for your day job or to waste time on social media).
You still think about writing all the time. Characters whose stories you want to create keep you up at night. The memoir you want to write haunts you. Poetry prances through your head.
Or maybe you’re a blogger who doesn’t blog. When you first started your site you were so excited, but it didn’t seem as if anyone else was, so you quit. Or maybe you didn’t want to quit but you just couldn’t figure out how to stay consistent.
Now, this is the part where I’m supposed to inspire you.
When the news of Kate Spade’s suicide broke on June 5 I, like many fans of the famous fashion designer, was shocked and saddened for her family. But I didn’t even think many of the things I heard others saying or saw others posting on social media. Things like, “She was rich. Why would she want to kill herself?” or “How could she be so selfish and do this to her family?” I didn’t say or think things like this because I’ve struggled with depression and anxiety for most of my life but hid my pain by being an overachiever who seems so “together.” I didn’t think or say Kate Spade was selfish because there have been so many times when I was convinced everyone around me would be better off if I weren’t here.
We women are our own worst critics—if you’re a woman, you’ve probably heard this before. And maybe this statement made you angry because you disagree. Or maybe it filled you with sorrow because you can say from first-hand experience that it’s true. When Mary Beth Gore heard this statement while watching the documentary Miss Representation, she decided to do something about it. She decided to start Her Story, a series of profiles on women with a connection to the Birmingham area.
“I want all women to know their story matters,” says Gore, a 24-year-old social worker. “It is a very empowering experience for a woman to share her story and know that it’s meaningful.”
Instead of criticizing other women Gore wants to uplift women by helping their voice be heard. She teamed up with Emily Smith to help her with Her Story, which they launched in January. Over the year Gore and Smith have shared stories of women of different age groups and different walks of life—from stories of women who have survived gunshot wounds and battled eating disorders to stories of college students and stay-at-home moms.
For my latest column for B-Metro I had a chat with Gore and Smith about the Her Story project. You can read it here.
Also on December 1 at 6 p.m. at the Christ City Center in Bessemer, Gore and Smith will host Her Story Celebration, an evening celebrating one year of stories. The evening will include dinner, time to explore vendor booths featuring women-owned businesses, and a panel discussion with some of the women featured in the Her Story project this year. Tickets are $10 in advance via EventBrite.com and $15 at the door. All proceeds will benefit Grace House Ministries. You can order your tickets here.
“Qualified.” Megan Beam is not a fan of this word, especially when it’s used to ask questions such as: “What qualifies me to write what I’m writing?” or “What qualifies you to tell anyone else how to write what they’re writing?” or “How does my work qualify for publishing?” When Beam started her Birmingham–based writing workshop series Vive Les Conteurs in January one of her goals was to strip this word of its value.
“I think that there is this sort of romance around creativity that you can’t really approach it unless you’ve been born with some sort of sparkle,” Beam says. “And I’m not saying that that doesn’t exist but I think that creativity in whatever form it is can save people’s lives and give them a reason to get up in the morning and make sense of the chaos.”
Beam says her primary goal with Vive Les Conteurs is simply to give people a safe space to write so they can finally feel like writers.
I had the pleasure of interviewing Beam for my latest column for B-Metro magazine. Read the complete story here.