This weekend, the New York Times Book Review ran its how-to issue, which is a rather nifty idea.
The cover of the How-To issue lists eight pieces, two of which are by women. The cover reads, in part, “Judith Warner on How to Raise Your Kids” and “Kate Christensen on How to Cook a Clam.” These phrases share space with “Roger Rosenblatt on How to Write Great” and “Garry Willis on How to Win an Election.”
That cover made me feel like I was in a time warp. There is nothing wrong with cooking and raising children; there are lots of things right and wonderful with these pursuits. They are also, as I’m sure I don’t need to tell you, traditionally female tasks, and when you take into consideration the VIDA stats, the history of gender imbalance in literature and journalism and the world at large, you might find yourself a little frustrated by the fact that it’s 2012 and we are still too often relegated to writing about deeply gendered topics. (Of the 18 bylined reviews and essays in the issue, five are by women.)
I’m sure there’s something you know how to do. I’m sure there are things your many brilliant friends know how to do, or something you could write about that has to do with doing a thing (most of the NYTBR pieces were, of course, book reviews). I would like to read the essays, reviews, comics, lists and more we, and they, could write in this vein - irreverent, funny, heartbreaking, ironic, wry, snarky, sweet, clever, brilliant, silly, and everything else.
If you would like to participate - and I truly hope you will - your task is simple:
1. Write a how-to piece on the topic of your choice. Because time moves extra quickly on the internet, I would like to have the first round of essays/reviews/etc. by Sunday, August 5. *
2. If you have a blog/Tumblr/LiveJournal/other internet presence, post the piece on your own blog/internet space, and email me a link.
3. If you don’t have a blog, send it to me, and I’ll post it here.
4. Read and link to the pieces written by other women.
And please, forward this to any women** you know who might like to participate. I hope to have a dozen posts ready on the 5th, but if there are more, I would love to keep this going for as long as it can go.
Any questions or comments are more than welcome.
* There is no longer a deadline for this project, as I’ve gotten more than a dozen pieces already. (Thank you all!) As long as I get submissions, I’ll keep posting them!
** An important clarification: This project is open to women and those who identify as genderqueer/not of a binary gender.