I sat in the Starbucks on Wilshire and 26th with a book in my hand and tears in my eyes. There’s something to be said for a book that brings out each emotion and sustains it to completion. And when finished, a surge of euphoria for the redemption in the story, the passion of the language, and oneness with the characters overwhelms the mind and heart… I suppose a multitude of factors weighed in for my appreciation for Alice Walker’s The Color Purple. I hated it on the first page. A tough and bitter read. Maddening at best, but mostly sickening. And then somehow I was wrapped up in the emotion of the story. The reality of the struggle… the heart of a woman who had been scorned and shamed all her life only to fully experience love and redemption on the last page. And yet it was not only about Celie, but about each character and their development throughout the book. I’m in awe of the talent behind the writing and the success of Walker to keep me at a distance for much of the book until at last, unbeknownst to me, I found myself enthralled with each character and their story. It was not as if I merely observed a story; I lived it with them.
I want to be a writer. I do. It’s a bold statement to make. When I tell people I want to be a writer, they start asking me what I write and what I would like to write about. I’ve learned to use fancy language and tell them I write memoirs, prose, short stories, etc. Truth is, I don’t really know. I suppose I am most drawn to writing memoir, and I have written prose, and I have begun a few short stories that lack any sort of conclusion… but in all honesty, I just don’t know. My writer friend Jenny Hall told me over dinner one night that most writers start out in memoir/autobiography. It’s a good thing I’m just starting out, because that’s what I write. I’ve toyed around with making parts of my story into fiction, but sometimes the third person is hard to write… especially in describing emotion. Usually once or twice or even three times a day I will talk myself out of thinking I could write anything of substance. Then I remind myself that the devil speaks too and God’s voice is bigger than his. And anyway, I know it won’t be my own creativity that produces writing. Moses was a crappy speaker but God called him to be a spokesperson. He’ll do what He will for the most glory I suppose.
Something else. I was driving home from my study/tear sess. at Starbucks and I started thinking about what evoked the passion and emotion I felt from reading The Color Purple. I find it interesting that I have always been passionate about the rights/equality/injustice of women. Now, the book isn’t a man-hating book (though I thought it was at the beginning and some may still say it is), and it isn’t a pity-me story about racism. But it addresses both issues in intimate and detailed ways… and it makes you think. Back to the drive… When I was in 4th grade, I wrote a report on Susan B. Anthony and the woman’s right to vote. Currently, I am writing an 18-25 page paper on the Apostle Paul and the leadership of women in the church. My bookshelf is home to not just a couple books of memoirs from women in various cultures describing their story. Last quarter I wrote a paper on Jesus and the role of women in His ministry. I’m noticing a pattern here. And yet, I’ve not been placed in an environment of oppression. Independent from the get-go, I am not easily ‘tamed,’ and most likely never will be. I frequently entertain a spirit of independence and freedom, and one that seeks truth in the realm of this spirit. It is not defiance or rebellion that I desire… nor is it the backbone of my passion for the empowerment of women. I suppose there is something innate in my being that cries out for women to live as they were created to live. I am not a man-hater. I do not blame men nor think they are the cause of oppression. I don’t think women should burn their bras or turn into men. The issue is not necessarily one of roles or who is under who… but of something deeper that causes women to wrestle with their position in society, allowance for leadership in the church, and role in a marriage. I’m not saying all women wrestle with this- because I think many women are quite content and confident with their identity and purpose. But I’ve wrestled with it and fought with God over it and am still researching and learning about who I’ve been created to be. It’s that independent thing I suppose. It’s my desire to not be contained or told my position outside of how Christ sees me and defines me.
JD and I took a walk the other night and I told him about the book. I explained my frustrations with history and women… progress that has been made, issues that still pierce my heart, etc. etc. He listened well. It wasn’t the first time I’ve talked to him about it; he knows where I stand and what I seek to know. I wouldn’t say he disagreed with me either… but rather than enforce or obstruct my line of thinking, he listened and gave insight that allowed me to think- more information to process, more ideals to wonder about, and more pieces to the puzzle that must be placed on the dining room table for all to see. I enjoy this about him.
Well, this has turned into a long post. Much longer than expected. I have a midterm tomorrow in my (surprise) American Women Writers class and I ought to go study for it. Sometimes things just need to written down, however, and you lucky readers got to hear the process of my mind hashing and searching and pondering issues that are dear to my heart. Another moment couldn’t go by without my typing each thought and sentence that was forming in my mind. For those who stuck through to the end, thanks for joining. 😉