From "Nine Beginnings" by Margaret Atwood:
"You learn to write by reading and writing, writing and reading. As a craft it's acquired through the apprentice system, but you choose your own teachers. Sometimes they're alive, sometimes dead.
"As a vocation, it involves the laying on of hands. You receive your vocation and in your turn you must pass it on. Perhaps you will do this only through your work, perhaps in other ways. Either way, you're part of a community, the community of writers, the community of storytellers that stretches back through time to the beginning of human society.
"As for the particular society to which you yourself belong -- sometimes you'll feel you're speaking for it, sometimes -- when it's taken an unjust form -- against it, or for that other community, the community of the oppressed, the exploited, the voiceless. Either way, the pressures on you will be intense; in other countries, perhaps fatal. But even here, speak 'for women,' or for any other group that is feeling the boot, and there will be many at hand, both for and against, to tell you to shut up, or to say what they want you to say, or to say it a different way. Or to save them. The billboard awaits you, but if you succumb to its temptations you'll end up two-dimensional.
"Tell what is yours to tell. Let others tell what is theirs."
Words: The passage by Margeret Atwood is from "Nine Beginnings," published in The Writer on Her Work, edited by Janet Sternburg (Virago Press, 1992). The poem in the picture captions is from Allegiances: New Poems by William Stafford (Harper & Row, 1970). All rights reserved by Margaret Atwood and the Stafford estate. Pictures: Tilly at the Fairy Spring on Chagford Commons.