“Hang on. I’ve got a big fucking spider on my ceiling.”
I’m on the phone to Los Angeles. On the other end of the phone is Vicki Abelson – mother, writer, creator and ‘fancypants’ of Women Who Write. And, she doesn’t like spiders.
“I’ve hit him with my shoe. Fucker.”
It’s been a hell of a few years for Vicki. From a housewife, to a mini-celebrity in her own right, in the space of four years, it’s all about her creation of a literary group for women that started in her living room. Vicki Abelson’s Women Who Write is billed as a “Celebrity-driven literary salon.” You don’t get many of them in the world.
“I started Women Who Write to workshop my book into a play and to support other women writers. As women, we generally struggle to get our voices heard. I’ve lived the rock and roll lifestyle over the years – I’ve managed bands in the past, been a promoter, booker and publicist. I’ve spent the majority of my life pitching other people’s creativity. For the first time in a long time I’m focusing on my creative vision and giving a platform to those who share it.”
“Women Who Write has gone from a group of local mommies who sat in my living room to a collection of powerful women, some of whom travel great distances, to sit in my house to be a part of the collective. It’s a free-thinking forum where we read, eat, laugh, and sometimes cry. We’ve had Jackie Collins, Marlee Matlin and Jane Smiley. And yes – we’ve had men – Carl Reiner, Michael Nesmith and Fred Willard to name a few. But it’s more than just artists performing. It’s a shared human experience.”
And, it’s in large part thanks to Facebook.
“On Facebook, I found my true, authentic voice. It freed me and allowed me to stop censoring my thoughts. It gave me a platform to be real and connected me with thousands of like-minded people, and those I otherwise wouldn’t have had access to. Without Facebook, my salon wouldn’t be thriving as it is.”
Following her creative dream presents its own challenges, especially when it comes to earning a living at it.
“I have a couple of people close to me who don’t see value in what I do. If it doesn’t translate to dollars they don’t see its worth. They think that I should be designing websites and writing copy. Not that there’s anything wrong with that, but for me, giving up Women Who Write, is out of the question. As a now single mother, I have to be practical, and find a way to have this thing that feeds me, feed me. And my children.”
“I pray for funding and/or sponsorship. Just like a plumber who receives payment for services rendered, so too, should an artist. The dream is to get Women Who Write on TV, to bring it to a global audience, without cost to them, where the talent would be compensated. If someone would have told me a year ago of all the angels who would appear to help me try to accomplish that, I wouldn’t have believed them.”
Things are now moving too for Don’t Jump, Vicki’s fictionalized memoir.
“I had a small publishing contract offered to me over two years ago. It wasn’t ideal and sat unattended for a long time. I now have a number of powerful people stepping up to help me get it out there. Including that original publisher.”
For Women Who Write, it’s onwards and upwards for 2013.
“I’ve begun companion Women Who Write writers’ workshops, my YouTube channel will be evolving into podcasts, and we’ll continue to take it on the road as we did at Michael Nesmith’s invitation last summer to the Henry Miller Memorial Library in Big Sur. We’ve had offers from all over the US and Canada. We look forward to expanding our audience – I can only fit sixty people in my living room. We want to help other women find their voice and promote themselves in a way that’s palatable. Social media helps. The collective brilliance does as well. The shared human connection, that time together, is transformative. It really does take a village.”
For those seeking inspiration, community and a platform to present their work, Vicki Abelson and her Women Who Write, just may be the angels to answer their dreams.
Photograph of Vicki With Carl Reiner courtesy of Sonya Sones