by Amy Ferris

This is the third year in a row that Milford Readers & Writers is hosting a Women’s panel.

I am so delighted. I am delighted for many reasons, the main one being that women’s voices are a deep passion of mine. You can almost call it an obsession. Women writing/righting their lives, I just love the way that sounds. Women using their voices to speak their truth, write their truth, share their truth; speak their minds. Share their stories. I am a huge fan of women telling their stories. I am a huge fan of hearing women talking, on a panel, about how they unleashed, unlocked a story that had been stirring, brewing in their soul for years, finally ready to be out in the world. It’s inspiring and encouraging, and it fills me with courage. And who doesn’t need an extra dose of courage these days? I am in awe of the power of words. Words can lift or annihilate. They can ease your soul or break your heart. They can be soft spoken or filled with anger. Words. When written, both the reader and the writer are transported. There is magic in writing a book, and there is magic in holding a book, cracking open a book.

It’s not that I don’t enjoy or love hearing men tell their stories, or share their secrets, or listen to them when they get into a hefty discussion – a panel – about life or Politics, or sex or the inevitable conversation about sports or The Godfather. It’s just I find that women, especially women writers, dig a little deeper when they’re exposing pieces of their life. I’m sure some would actually call me out, and say that’s sexist. And I would probably agree. But, here’s the rub, my truth: I truly admire women who are able to sit down and put down on paper, or scribble notes, or put into their computer a story they have been so reluctant to share out of fear of being vilified or knocked down a few steps. For so many years, women have stood in the background, kept quiet, held tight to their voices, minded their own business. For so many years, women have stayed silent. A diary became their best friend. A journal became their life-line. A notebook became their saving grace. Over the years, women have used their voices for the greater good; to champion other women, to make a ruckus. Women, like Bella Abzug, and the sheer brilliance of the original editorial team at Ms. Magazine, gave women permission to write their absolute truth; no more hiding, no more keeping secrets tucked into the back of a drawer, no longer standing in the shadows, but casting a much longer and a more vivid shadow.

When eight formidable women writers sit on a panel you can bet dollars to donuts that yes, life and sex and politics and sports – hello, Title IX – will be talked about, discussed with passion and excitement and a thrill. And if by chance The Godfather is brought up, no doubt it will be the scene where Kay announces to Michael Corleone that she had an abortion – it was a son, a son – and as she looks him straight in the eyes, she says: Because all of this must change.

Women writers, changing the proverbial game, through our words, our writing, our voices.

Our stories matter.

Our stories save lives, and change hearts and yes, Goddess yes, shake and rattle and move the universe.