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Quindlen Message: Loud & Clear

For decades, Pulitzer Prize-winning columnist and bestselling author Anna Quindlen has been urging readers to think outside the box with her thoughtful, insightful and often personal writing.

The new book "Loud and Clear" is her latest collection of columns and speeches. There is a chapter called "Voice" in which she talks about all of the advancements women have made, how lucky women are to live in this time and the responsibility they have to the men and women of the world.

She tells co-anchor Hannah Storm, "That sense of that it is just about us - making sure that you get the resume, that you get the corner office, that you get the advances - that's nowhere near enough. I've got to say, since I first wrote that speech, I think clearly with what's going on in the Middle East, we're more aware of that than ever before. The burqas of Afghanistan and the situation of Muslim women, I think, woke some of us up to how blessed we are in America to have the kind of gains for women that we've had. "

A difficult column she says she had to write ( it is included in her book) was about Andrea Yates. She notes, "I really didn't feel like I had anything to write. I thought that when a mother drowns five children, it feels to you like there can only be one response and that's horror and disapproval. And yet, as I thought about it, I thought about all those days with three young kids in the house when I thought I was going to lose my mind. And I wanted to write about how no one writes that the most blessed job in the world can also be the most difficult and the most wearing."

Some of her more powerful columns dealt with grief, as well, touching a great number of people. Quindlen's obituary about her sister-in-law is one example.

She says, "Oh, my gosh; you're amazed at how there are things that we think we've dealt with that we haven't dealt with at all. And people would write after that column and say, 'Thank you for making me understand that I'm not crazy, that this is a feeling that goes on and on, and on.'

"I think I wrote about the perpetual presence of an absence or something like that. People wait for you to get over it. And I think to the extent that that column says, there are things that cannot be got over, people were hugely grateful."

Quindlen wrote the following on the 25th anniversary of her mother's death, and read it out loud on The Early Show:

"There is something primitive about this love and this loss. What does it mean to sleep beneath the heart of another person, safe and warm, for almost a year? No scientist can truly say. But it must have some visceral power that we cannot really understand, only intuit. She was the only person who ever loved me unconditionally. It has been the bulwark of my life, has made everything else possible. When I see myself refracted through the rosy lens of my mother's love, it melts the self-doubt and brings to light the tiny sanctuary lamp of confidence."

Asked what comfort it brings to her, writing about her loss, she says, "The feeling that you're not alone. I am alone in a little room in New York City and I write something that seems to me uniquely personal, and then I get e-mails from -- as I did with my recent 'Empty Nest' column -- hundreds of other women, and I think, none of us are alone, really."

Click here to read an excerpt from "Loud and Clear."

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