The Writer on Her Work

The Writer on Her Work

W.W. Norton & Co.

ISBN: 0393320553

June 1, 2000

Read an excerpt from The Writer on Her Work

W.W. Norton isssued a special edition of THE WRITER ON HER WORK, volume one, with a preface by JULIA ALVAREZ, a new introduction by JANET STERNBURG and biographical updates on writers Anne Tyler, Joan Didion, Mary Gordon, Nancy Milford, Honor Moore, Michele Murray, Margaret Walker, Susan Griffin, Alice Walker, Ingrid Bengis, Toni Cade Bambara, Erica Jong, Maxine Hong Kingston, Janet Burroway, Muriel Rukeyser and Gail Godwin.

From the preface: “Then the book I hadn’t known existed came into my hands.  I want to say that I walked into a bookstore with that hunger writers know welling within me, a hunger for some book that I couldn’t yet describe and didn’t know if it had been written.  But I don’t remember exactly how I happened upon Sternburg’s The Writer on Her Work.  It seems now that it was always there, on the bookshelf next to my desk, where I keep the touchstone books.  As I read of other women’s struggles with their families, their traditions, their fears – all summed up on that blank sheet of paper, I felt like Molly Bloom at the end of James Joyce’s Ulysses, turning pages rapidly, saying, Yes, oh yes, yes indeed, uhhum, ay si.  These stories, however different from mine, reflected and affirmed so many aspects of my own experience.  Reading one after the other, the trickle became a flood, a deep affirming YES!, a chorus/coven of women who practiced the witchcraft of their craft.  I felt a loosening of the knot in my gut.  I was not alone.  I was not locked away in a room of my own.”  - Julia Alvarez

From the introduction: “The woman writer as we’ve stereotypically known her has been many things: recluse, sufferer, woman in mauve velvet on a chaise, woman who flees the stifling rooms of her father’s house, adventuress, “free” woman of multiple love affairs, paragon of productivity, destroyer of others, more often of herself.  The images are all too familiar – away with them.  In their place, I suggest we picture a woman (of whatever age) sitting (at a desk, on a bench in the playground, on a bus…) with paper in front of her and a pen in her hand.  No more.  But no less. That woman is asking herself questions.  They are the questions of all writers – form and craft, value and meaning, relationship and identity.”  - Janet Sternburg

More on The Writer on Her Work:

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Jstor main page

Lighting Out for the Territory

Cynthia Newberry Martin’s blog

Google Books


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