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.

5 Great Tips for the Writing Life from Edna Ferber

Edna Ferber

Edna Ferber (1885-1968) is a name perhaps less known today than some of the others in this group, but she was considered one of the most successful authors of her era—primarily the 1920s through the early 50s. With their strong female characters, imaginative plots, and colorful locales, most of her novels became not only best sellers but Academy Award-winning movies and Broadway shows. Here she offers 5 tips of timeless advice for would be and experienced writers. See more thoughts from Edna Ferber in Success or Failure, All’s to Do Again, and Dear Literary Ladies: How Can I Stick to a Writing Schedule?

Take one day at a time

“It is better to think of a novel or any long piece of work as a day to day task to be done, no matter how eagerly you may think ahead (when you’re not actually putting words to paper) to the chapters not yet written. It is a long journey, to be undertaken sometimes with hope and confidence and high spirits; sometimes with despair. If one thinks of it in terms of four hundred—four hundred and fifty—five hundred pages, one can drown in a morass of apprehension. So one step after another, slowly, painfully, but a step. And so it grows. You have felt or observed in life something that you want terribly to say, and you want to say it more than you want to do anything else in the world.” (A Kind of Magic, 1963) Read More→

Kate Douglas Wiggin

Kate Douglas Wiggin

Kate Douglas Wiggin (September 28, 1856 – August 24, 1923) was an American author best known for children’s stories. She was also active as an educator; aside from having founded the first kindergarten in San Francisco, she and her sister established a school for training kindergarten teachers. Born in Philadelphia, she and her sister moved to Portland, Maine with their widowed mother. Her education was sporadic and did not include college, though this wasn’t unusual for girls in her era. Her mother’s second husband had a health condition that took the family to the warmer climate of the west coast, and she found her milieu in California.

She trained to be a kindergarten teacher in Southern California, and upon completing her training, headed to San Francisco. There it was that she was inspired to start the first free kindergarten in 1878, focusing on street children and the generally underserved. She is considered one of the first and most active proponents of the kindergarten movement in the U.S. Read More→

Now I Become Myself (poem) by May Sarton

May Sarton as a young woman

Presented here is “Now I Become Myself” — a beloved poem by the prolific novelist, memoirist, and poet May Sarton.

Now I Become Myself. It’s taken
Time, many years and places;
I have been dissolved and shaken,
Worn other people’s faces,
Run madly, as if Time were there,
Terribly old, crying a warning,
“Hurry, you will be dead before—”
(What? Before you reach the morning? Read More→

Am I talented enough to be a successful writer?

Anais Nin

Dear Literary Ladies,
Sometimes I wonder if I really have what it takes to be a successful writer. The desire is definitely there, but I’m not sure I have the talent. For those of us who don’t feel particularly “gifted,” what hope is there? Read More→

Atlas Shrugged by Ayn Rand (1957) – two snarky reviews

Atlas Shrugged (1957) - original cover

From the original review in the La Crosse Tribune, October, 1957, by H.G. Rogers: Bearing on his bowed shoulders an ungrateful world that grows heavier and heavier, Atlas shrugs and lets it fall to destruction — and a proper comeuppance it is by the tens of Ayn Rand’s ideology.

Atlas, according to what some readers will regard as a monolithic conception, is the rich man, the doer, the builder, and material creator. In this novel he is Rearden, inventor or Rearden Metal, his counterpart in what is by no means the weaker sex is Dagny Taggart; John Galt stands for the spirt of their heroism. They find the world is their ball and chain; they are fettered by social movements, sissy notions about the majority and the good of the majority, or utopian theories that would require a businessman to look out for the welfare of his employees. Read More→