One of my writing idols has always been Toni Morrison. For many years early in my teaching career, I taught her novel Beloved in my women's literature class. Of course, the story is profound and moving and horrible and amazing, but it was Toni Morrison's life that always struck me as an example for my female students, most of whom were young, some single mothers, some just back in the work force. As she leaped into writing, Toni Morrison was fulfilling so many roles, juggling, tending, caring, creating, and I took strength from her example as I tried to do the same thing.
She also had many other issues in her life that I didn't have--race being one of them--but I could sense the woman, the writer, in every sentence I read. She had been there. She still was.
Toni was a single mother when she started writing, and she worked in publishing for years at the same time. She was an avid reader, too, and she finally decided that she needed to "construct the kind of book [she] wanted to read." Thus started her career, from The Bluest Eye to Love.
But when I was reading a recent interview of her, I read something that I related to, again, something that she feels. When asked which of her novels she likes the most, she said that she is "most deeply impressed with the one [novel] that's going on at the moment."
And that's how I feel, loving the thing that is happening now, the thing going on rather than the things that have passed.
When Beloved was voted the best American novel of the past quarter-century, I couldn't have agreed more. But it's the writer under the words I would have voted for, too, for providing me a reason to write, a reason to struggle in my role as a woman, and a way of loving my own work.
Causes Jessica Inclán Supports
Women for Women International Goodwill Industries Lindsey Wildlife Museum Freecycle.org