Today is Monday, and the holiday is over. I actually went back to work yesterday, going through the copyedited manuscript for Immortal Beloved. I do love this story, and still enjoy rereading it, even after twelve times, or however many times it’s been. I love the theme of an unhappy person redeeming herself and becoming happier by becoming more in tune with and true to herself. I think that’s a life lesson so many of us need to keep learning.
Someone recently asked me for advice about how to write, and as usual I went blank and got a deer-in-the-headlights look. But really, one thing I always tell people is that they need to know what they’re trying to say, and know who they’re trying to say it to. Once you really know that, other things seem more clear.
For myself, an important theme in virtually all of my work has been the importance of girls and women claiming their own power. I still see so many messages, blatant and subliminal, that encourage girls and women to depend on men, to not rock the boat, to fulfill certain expectations, to value being thought feminine over being thought strong. There are still so, so many double standards for women in the workplace, as parents, as artists. It freaks me out, for myself and for my children. It’s crucial to me to model the behavior I hope my children emulate, it’s crucial that I provide an example of how to be strong, to be competent, to be true to myself and my feelings. I do my best, but of course there’s always room for improvement.
For me, being a strong woman is not about acting like a man. A French writer, Simone de Beauvoir, said: “Man is defined as a human being and a woman as a female – whenever she behaves as a human being she is said to imitate the male.” It’s taken me years to wrap my mind around that thought. I try to be a strong woman, but that doesn’t mean I never need help, never break down, never feel lost or afraid. It means that I’m strong enough to ask for help, strong enough to get back up, strong enough to try again. I try to write characters who are discovering their inner strengths, their power.
I could go on and on about power! It’s a fascinating subject. But right now I have to go and get some sleep–up at 6 again tomorrow.