History Month which always feels sort of bittersweet. On the one hand, it’s
great to spend time thinking about those women who forged new paths, set
records, and left their marks on history. On the other, it’s frustrating that
there are still so many women stifled by their social circumstances.
March, I’ll come across some lengthy dialogue about influential women. Writers
will name other writers, feminists will identify lawmakers or suffragettes,
moms will name their moms or grandmothers.
who my most influential women are and try to make a list which will inevitably
forget someone. Like a first-time nominee winning an Oscar, I’ll add “so many
others I know I’ve forgotten,” to the end of the list.
As this is a
writers’ blog, I’ll stick to the ladies that influenced my writing life.
Enya’s Shepard Moons album came out when I was
in high school. I never knew a woman’s voice could be so ethereal. She’s
magical and she inspired me to think of the world in magical terms. It might
feel like a leap from Enya to vampires, but the mysticism is the same whenever
you suspend the boundaries of reality in storytelling.
to the stream-of-consciousness writing that her contemporaries are given credit
for pioneering was a revolution for me. Not only did Mrs. Woolf suggest letting
the character guide the story, she followed the character through the messy
twists and turns of mundane existence and hung in there until the character
revealed the uniqueness of her experience. My characters all lead my stories.
I’ve called it “pantsing” before: writing without a plan or an outline.
get enough of the VC Andrews books when I was in sixth and seventh grades.
About the same time, I moved to California
and began writing what ultimately became After December (the novel I’m
querying). Andrews created such vivid, flawed characters and then she tortured
them mercilessly. I aspired to writing the same compelling
grade English teacher encouraged my fiction writing. I can’t remember if I ever
showed her any of it and I can’t imagine what she would have thought. The five
spiral notebooks I filled with skateboarding stories and my crush Brian being
heroic have long since perished but I carried them everywhere with me in
becoming fast friends two years ago, Jodie has been my constant writing
companion. She’ll read anything I give her, offer thoughtful and constructive
feedback, and get as excited as I do about the stories. She talks about my
characters like they’re real people. When she leaves for Mobile in a couple of weeks, she’ll take with
her my safe place to be a writer. Not just writing, but a Writer. I’m forever
grateful to her.
there are a million other artists, writers, teachers, and friends who have
inspired and encouraged my writing. This month it’s all about the women and
these five have definitely left their marks.