Advanced Authentic Research

Community Voice: How Writing Groups Have Shaped the Work of Bay Area Women by Clare K.


How have writing communities shaped the content and aspirations of female Bay Area writers? Female writers, as an original minority in the writing community, have long supported each other in order to bring great visibility and credence to their work: from monastic communities to feminist conventions, women have historically reviewed, critiqued and promoted the work of their fellows. ‘The Earliest Women’s Writing Communities: Anglo-Saxon Literary Cultures and Communities’ provides a factual foundation for the existence of writing communities; pursuing the earliest women’s writing in Anglo-Saxon Europe, dating to around the 7th century. It falls short, however, in two categories: in the extent of continuity of the tradition of women’s writing communities, and in the existence of writing communities outside of Anglo-Saxon Europe -- including the United States. My research intends to explore the existence and function of writing groups among female writers in the United States, primarily the Bay Area; with the goal of discovering how writing communities have encouraged women to create and publish their work...Interviews have already been conducted with two authors, Meg Waite Clayton and Jana McBurney Lin, the former of which was useful in documenting the support that encouraged her employment as an author of historical fiction: she says that she would ‘not have remained a writer’ without  the support of writing groups, and pursued writing as a second career after encouragement from her family and friends. Jana McBurney Lin also did not initially plan on writing -- she academically pursued advertising and communications -- however, cultural inspiration whilst dwelling in Southeast Asia lead her to pen ‘My Half of the Sky’, her debut novel. Both women are a part of WOMBA -- a group of female writers in the Bay Area, and Ms. McBurney Lin also belongs to a smaller critique group, Ms. Clayton being of former membership to several similar groups....Initial research will be conducted through a series of interviews with five female authors from the Bay Area group WOMBA; interviews will be conducted via email and by phone, and will include responses to a series of standardized questions (below), as well as follow up questions....Initial interviews will be transcribed and compiled into a document, then examined for trends within responses and further openings for questioning, including suggestions of other women to speak to. Interviews will be extended to authors suggested by the primary interview candidates, as well as authors outside of WOMBA. The same standardized questions and variable follow-ups will be used to maintain consistency in the style of responses gathered from the authors....