Saturday, January 28, 2006

I have been thinking about getting older recently, not least because my friend Lynne gave me a Fabulous Broads calendar which I keep by my bed, and most of the quotes from it seems to be from - and about - older women. Not only that, I find I'm mentally saying them in a strange version of a Southern accent, starting and ending them with 'Honey', even though looking through that's never in any of the quotes. 'Honey, a salad is not a meal. It is a style, honey' (Fran Lebowitz). You get the picture.

There are many that make me laugh out loud, such as: 'If your house is really a mess and a stranger comes to the door, greet him with, 'Who could have done this? We have no enemies.' (Phyllis Diller). Others though make me smile and then feel bad, because the humour largely relies not just on being cruel to men, but on getting money or 'stuff' from them, and surely that's the antithesis of a fabulous woman? The women I want to admire aren't playing any kind of gender games. Honey, they just go out and buy diamonds for themselves, honey.

But then there are other quotes that bring me up short, and think 'yes, that's what I want to be like'. Here's one from Erica Jong: 'Do you want me to tell you something really subversive? Love is everything it's cracked up to be. That's why people are so cyncial about it. It really is worth fighting for, being brave for, risking everything for. And the trouble is, if you don't risk everything, you risk even more.' It sums up everything I've been thinking recently - that it's actually more of a risk, and harder, to trust. Cynicism is just the easy way out. Ho hum. I do have a sense of humour, really.

But... just before I 'here endeth the lesson', here's a real lesson in how a fabulous broad takes responsibility for herself, and what she thinks. This is Sharon Olds's open letter explaining why she wouldn't be attending last year's National Book Festival, also courtesy of Lynne. Seamus Heaney defined a writing voice as knowing your stance in life, and putting this into your words. It's interesting thinking about that and reading this letter, because I just know the person who wrote it is the same one who has written the poems in 'The Unswept Room', for instance, and I can respect that in a writer more than any technical excellence. So I guess my definition of a Fabulous Broad is someone who will always have things 'worth fighting for, being brave for, risking everything for,' and Sharon Olds is my 'Broad of the day'.

And my writing prompt is from Mrs Dalloway, and is 'She stood her upright, dusted her frock, kissed her.'

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