I distinctly remember the first time I told another woman that I liked Ayelet Waldman.

We were both “older” students at San Jose State, taking a night class in early 20th century literature.  I barely knew the woman and mentioned I’d found a book that I’d ended up loving on Ayelet’s website — a site I checked regularly for it’s brief, honest reviews —  and the woman went absolutely batshit: Oh my god, not Ayelet Waldman.  I hate that woman!  She’s a disgrace!

This rant came shortly after Ayelet had published her smart and thoughtful essay about loving her husband more than her children, and then appeared on Oprah.  I remember reading the essay.  I remember watching the Oprah episode, live.

I knew she’d be bullied by the masses.  I remember how scared Ayelet looked in the Oprah intro (which Oprah, frankly, did nothing to alleviate) and, at the same time, how very strong she held her body, how brave and powerful she seemed in the face of so much criticism.  Her grace as the hour went on and on.

And, no coincidence, that’s about the time I started writing bolder essays and memoir.  I know that watching Ayelet navigate the aftermath of her essay made me a better writer, a braver writer; watching her taught me that being afraid of the reaction is not only okay, it’s preferred.  That fear is one of the best reasons to write an essay at all.

So I thank you, Ayelet Waldman.

And I’m sure I’m not the only one.

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