The Literary Ladies’ Guide to the Writing Life

Welcome to a site celebrating classic women authors who wrote enduring literature. Here you’ll find their words of wisdom for readers and writers. Enjoy their life stories and quotations; learn more about their books; read their advice on the writing life; and enjoy contemporary voices on the writing process.

The Literary Traditions of Self-Publishing

Peter Rabbit

As a way to avoid or recover from rejection, or simply to be entrepreneurs, writers have increasingly been turning to self-publishing. User-friendly print-on-demand or e-book services allow writers to create books on an as-needed basis, avoiding the pitfalls of overprinting, then having to store copious numbers of cartons of unsold books in the garage or under the bed. Whether the product ends up only in the hands of the author’s mom and cousins or becomes one of the rare successes that sells like wildfire, it’s good to have options. The ultimate stroke of luck for a self-published book is being picked up by a trade publisher, then continuing to sell like crazy. Read More→

Flannery O’Connor

Flannery O'Connor

Flannery O’Connor (March 25, 1925 – August 3, 1964) was an American writer best known for her short stories, morally driven narratives populated with flawed, even grotesque characters. Even while stricken with lupus, she wrote every day, producing a body of work that included two novels and more than thirty short stories. She was also an avid book reviewer, penning more than one hundred reviews for various publications.

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Vita Sackville-West: The Butterfly of the Moment

Vita Sackville-West

It is necessary to write, if the days are not to slip emptily by. How else, indeed, to clap the net over the butterfly of the moment? For the moment passes, it is forgotten; the mood is gone; life itself is gone. That is where the writer scores over his fellows: he catches the changes of his mind on the hop. Growth is exciting; growth is dynamic and alarming.

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Is it better to be a modest success than to risk failure?

Vita Sackville-West

Dear Literary Ladies,
I’m plugging away at a modest but steady writing career, but sometimes I think about aiming higher. I admit that I’m afraid to fail— and then look foolish to myself and others. What about you? Do you think it’s better to stick with what you do best, rather than stick your neck out and possibly fail?

Is it better to be extremely ambitious, or rather modest? Probably the latter is safer; but I hate safety, and would rather fail gloriously than dingily succeed.

Vita Sackville-West, from a letter to Virginia Woolf, Aug. 1928 Read More→

The Violent Bear It Away (1960) by Flannery O’ Connor

The Violent Bear it Away by Flannery O'Connor (1960) cover

Excerpted from The Kansas City Star (Kansas City, Missouri) · Sat, Mar 5, 1960. Reviewed by Webster Schott. Flannery O’Connor, a comparatively young southern woman, writers with such skill and control that to praise her novel to excess would come easily and willingly. Suffice it to say that The Violent Bear It Away is the best of her three books and that a comparison between this neo-Gothic tale and the novels written by William Faulkner at the height of his literary powers, could in no way harm Miss O’Connor. This surely will be remembered as one of the most important works of fiction of the present year.

Miss O’ Connor deals with four characters, two boys and two men, in a short span of time and space, Much of the action takes place near a small town, Powerhead, Tennessee, and in a larger city, perhaps Memphis or Chattanooga. The time is the present. Read More→