I wish I could say that I only went to medical school to support my knitting habit. It would sound wonderful, but it wouldn't really be true; I went to medical school in part, I suppose, to support my writing habit, and discovered in medicine a new source of stories, a new identity as a writer. It was not my original ambition to be a knitting writer, or a medical writer, either; it was my firm and fervent ambition to be a writer of fiction, and I have been writing stories pretty much ever since I first learned to write. I come of a family of writers, and I think I always understood that fiction writing was a gift, a joy, a labor of love-in other words, that I would need a day job.
And thus I found myself in medical school, and when I was in medical school, I started writing about my training and about the experience of being transformed into a doctor. I wrote a series of essays in the New York Times about drawing blood for the first time, about the experience of crying in the hospital.
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Montgomery put big pieces of her own life into the Emily books. On the other hand, Kate Douglas Wiggin said in her autobiography, "My Garden of Memory," that "Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm" was inspired by a vision of a dark-haired child rattling along in an old-fashioned stagecoach: "I wondered who the child was, and whither she was traveling, and whence she came. I could not content myself until I had created answers to my questions.
The child is called Rebecca Rowena Randall, and she is being sent away from Sunnybrook Farm by her impoverished widowed mother to be raised by her two maiden aunts, Miranda and Jane Sawyer. She is a slender, shabbily dressed child with remarkable eyes that "glowed like two stars, their dancing light half hidden in lustrous darkness. Like Rebecca Randall, Anne Shirley and Emily Starr are also slender, shabby children with remarkable eyes; Jo March is introduced as very thin, and possessed of "sharp, gray eyes, which appeared to see everything, and were by turns fierce, funny, or thoughtful.
But I understood about needing to write, about writing as solace and writing as balm. I understood being handy with words, knew how Rebecca could turn out neatly rhymed verses, one after another, to the amazement of her friends.
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And I also understood how Emily, when her teacher came to New Moon to complain that Emily had misbehaved in school, could take comfort in collecting impressions of the dramatic scene for later use: "Some part of her had detached itself from the rest and was interestedly absorbing impressions and analyzing motives and describing settings. She felt that when she wrote about this scene later on she must not forget to describe the odd shadows the candle under Aunt Elizabeth's nose cast upward on her face, producing a rather skeletonic effect. IN an age in which most women do not have professions, Emily and Jo and the others created identities for themselves by sheer force of authorial will.
Rebecca also commands attention from her world, her fellow students and her teacher, who comments: "quaint, countrified little verses, doggerel they are, but somehow or other she always contrives to put in one line, one thought, one image, that shows you she is, quite unconsciously to herself, in possession of the secret. Emily and Rebecca and Jo and, for that matter, Betsy Ray of the "Betsy-Tacy" books, which were set at the turn of the century and published by Maud Hart Lovelace during the 's, write because they are driven to write, because writing is more real to them than many aspects of real life.
Emily's inspiration comes as a sudden visitation: "the flash," as she calls it. Whenever the flash comes, she has a moment of unexpected beauty and happiness, leaving her uplifted for days, inspiring poetry and fiction. Less mystically, Jo March "did not think herself a genius by any means; but when the writing fit came on, she gave herself up to it with entire abandon, and led a blissful life, unconscious of want, care or bad weather, while she sat safe and happy in an imaginary world, full of friends almost as real and dear to her as any in the flesh.
Whether they write from inspiration or because they must, these young women are not purists. They are keenly aware that a person can earn her living with her pen.
They are, after all, orphans Anne, Emily or semi-orphans Rebecca or in straitened circumstances Jo. They will need to make their way in the world -- and writing offers professional opportunities, a confluence of destiny and opportunity. For an aspiring writer growing up on these books, there was a fascinating element of professionalism, a hardheaded assumption that after the "flash," the "writing fit," there were manuscripts to submit, editors to second-guess, rejection slips to rise above. Well, you can learn from "Little Women" that manuscripts ought to be on one side of the page only, that the pages should be numbered, and never tied with a ribbon.
You can learn from the Emily books that you're supposed to include return postage when you submit a manuscript, and you can learn about the different kinds of markets: "The day before Christmas I had five acceptances. I wonder I didn't go crazy. Three of them were from magazines who don't pay anything, but subscriptions, for contributions. But the others were accompanied by checks -- one for two dollars for a poem and one for ten dollars for my 'Sands of Time,' which had been taken at last -- my first story acceptance.
You can learn that reviews are contradictory and often confusing; both Emily and Jo publish novels of their own in the course of their stories, and go through the reviews in detail in the text of the stories; both Montgomery and Alcott allow their characters to answer back the reviewers, as every author longs to do: " 'This man says "An exquisite book, full of truth, beauty, and earnestness; all is sweet, pure, and healthy," ' continued the perplexed authoress. Similarly, Emily: " 'A very tiresome book' -- 'a very delightful book' -- 'very undistinguished fiction' and 'on every page the work of the finished artist is apparent,' 'an ephemeral sort of affair' and 'a book destined to live.
For a young girl who wants to be a writer one day, these books offer a tantalizing glimpse of the marketplace, of women making talents into careers -- and they were probably even more intriguing in or These are not inspired dreamers, spinning pretty poems in remote towers; they are driven and ambitious workers -- again, unusual elements in girls' books of more than 20 years ago. For the writers who created these girls, writing was indeed serious business. They were professionals, and successful professionals, and if the business aspects of their books ring true, it is because their authors cared passionately for the money and recognition and independence that writing could bring.
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Louisa May Alcott recorded in her diary in the sums she had earned by writing and kept gleeful track of what she had been able to do for her family: "I have written 25 stories the past year, besides the fairy book containing The result totals up to about one hundred thousand dollars. Not such a bad total, considering the equipment I started out with -- my pen and a knack of expression. They recorded the vagaries of editorial preference, the intricacies of compensation -- and Montgomery was involved for almost a decade in complex litigation with her publisher, the L.
Page Company of Boston, over rights and royalties and over its decision to publish, when she was at her most successful, a collection of stories she thought were weak.
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But I came of a different breed of cats. I got the Authors League of America to find me a good Boston lawyer, and I entered suit in and won it. Since most adults, especially adult males, would probably not think of "Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm" as grown-up fare, it may be somewhat surprising nowadays to realize quite how celebrated these authors were for their books, written for and about young girls and, for all their sprightliness and good fun, moral in tone and language.
Consider, for example, Jack London's letter to Kate Douglas Wiggin, written in from Manchuria, where London was covering the Russo-Japanese War for the Hearst papers and where his leisure reading apparently included "Rebecca": "Rebecca won my heart," he wrote. She is real; she lives; she has given me many regrets, but I love her.
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I would have quested the wide world over to make her mine, only I was born too long ago and she was born but yesterday. Their aspirations and their literary attempts figure in the plots of all these books, creating a kind of girls' book metafiction, stories for girls about girls who write stories and who frequently usurp the narration with their Diaries and Thought Books.
Chart number 2 shows that this baby boom generation that brought the housing economy demand really high in the s since the boomers were in there 20s and were buying there own houses, so the s with the strongest sustained period of new home construction i Better Essays words 4.
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