I’m sad to see the end of Women’s History Month. I’ve learned so much this month about women writers (my focus for the month) and the influence they have had on many. My prayer is that we, women continue to shape and evolve this world in a way that brings truth and balance, front and center to all lives. So, as Women’s History Month comes to a close, enjoy this last commentary from writer, author Sean Wright as she shares her thoughts on the woman writer who influenced her.
My first love was books, not boys—even before I could really read. I recall sitting in a sunbeam as a girl with a stack of books, enraptured yet simultaneously relaxed by the effect of the written word; they “say” something–without voice. Wow! I was hooked.
Once I learned to read, I dived right in–deeply. There were Ramona and Encyclopedia Brown books, poetry by Shel Silverstein. I even attempted to contribute to the writing craft with a story of my own at eight, about a girl who finds a strawberry in the woods the size of a Volkswagen. Years passed and I didn’t stop prowling the library, searching for the next adventure on pages. Heck, the library even rewarded me with a hot fudge sundae for my patronage and no late fines in sixth grade.
I stayed a voracious reader until one author changed my life at thirteen, calling me to write: Toni Morrison. My mother belonged to a book club and one of their books was The Bluest Eye. My mother let me read it and I was mesmerized. Ms. Morrison is a literary genius. She takes risks in her stories that seem impossible but makes them work. Her writing style is clever and beautiful. Ms. Morrison can make themes as ugly as slavery, incest and racism sound almost lyrical, poetic. You catch her drift in a way that haunts you—forever. And I wanted to do that, too: tell stories that had the staying power of a stubborn stain.
I wrote articles for some small papers and magazines but kept at my creative writing, amassing a fine collection of rejection letters—enough to wallpaper my house—but kept going. After what seemed like endless rejections and revisions, I got a short story published; thirty years after I wrote the gigantic strawberry story! The following year, an essay I wrote to Glamour magazine was selected to be made into a short, online film that an actress directed. I got another short story published last year and am working on a novel.
There were other female writers that tickled my fancy as well—Alice Walker and Terry McMillan—but Toni Morrison blew the dust off my senses, off my writing skills. I still have the same copy of The Bluest Eye. The cover is faded. Chunks of pages have separated from the binding and I’ve had to put tape on the spine to hold it together. People see it, grimace and ask, “Why don’t you buy an updated copy of that book?” The answer is simple: because I don’t want one. My battered copy of The Bluest Eye is my icon for my calling as a writer. Happy reading and writing, my friends.
Sean C. Wright is native to Dallas, TX, and earned a degree in English from University of North Texas. She is the author of the short stories Hazel Hogan and Devil Does Dallas. For more information about Sean, visit http://www.iwrightaway.com and her blog: http://www.seanarchy.wordpress.com.