March 26 - Today's post provided by Marthe Jocelyn
Although I did not have a stellar (or even complete) high school career – and never went to university at all – I think of myself as a bit of a nerd. I was a curl-up-with-a–book kind of kid, always looking for outsiders in the pages I was reading, whether they had really lived or were part of someone’s made up world.
I have shamelessly used chunks of family history as the jumping off points for most of my middle grade and young adult books. My contemporary teen novel, Would You, was inspired by a family tragedy. My previous work of non-fiction, called A Home for Foundlings, was written after I learned that my grandfather was raised in the Foundling Hospital in London, England. My historical novel, Folly, is a fictionalized version of what led my great-grandmother to abandon the son who would become my grandfather.
While doing research for all my books, I kept bumping into women who had written diaries or letters or articles or stories that either bore witness to otherwise unknown moments in history, or had unexpected repercussions on the generations to follow.
|Used with permission from |
What compelled these women to write? What compels any of us to insist on our own presence, to make our mark, however small, by putting words on a page?
Scribbling Women tells tales from the lives of ten women and one nine-year-old girl, focusing on what they themselves found interesting enough to record, whether because writing was a pastime, a source of income, an art form, a path to justice, or a desperate effort to communicate with someone else in the world. I wasn’t trying to present complete biographies, but rather to look at the words certain women chose to write down.
Although it is now widely acknowledged that many of women’s impressive achievements throughout history have been ignored or belittled, I found that buried even further out of sight were the accounts of such achievements from a female point of view. And what of the women who did not perform publicly noteworthy feats? The ones who cooked and sewed, quietly listening and watching as life went on around them?
|Sei Shonagon by Uemura Shoen,|
courtesy of Kyoto Journal
“I really can’t understand people who get angry when they hear gossip about others,” she wrote. “How can you not discuss other people? Apart from your own concerns, what can be more beguiling to talk about and criticize than other people?”
I find it most appealing that those words were written over one thousand years ago! However history has unfolded for countless generations, the love of gossip – of telling stories – has continued throughout.
|Dang Thuy Tram,|
courtesy of Kim Tram Dang