Monday, February 23, 2009

Not Quite Jo March


My very favourite chapter in Louisa May Alcott's classic novel Little Women is the chapter "Jo Meets Apollyon". This is the chapter where Jo's sister Amy, in a fit of spite, tosses Jo's treasured book she has worked so hard on into the fire. Back, as a teen when I first read Little Women, I was also a teen writer. I had written a novelette in the styling of Susan B. Hinton's The Outsiders and although it never saw The Gutenberg's descendants, it was the largest literary work I'd completed, I was quite proud of it and it even made a friend cry when she read it. I felt such empathy for Jo and felt as angry for Jo as she felt for herself.

And while anger is the theme emotion of that chapter, for me what lingers in my mind is not the tale of anger and eventual forgiveness but the sense of despair and sadness poor Jo felt at the loss of her work. You cannot recreate that which comes to you in inspiration. I just comes to you. Just once. I've always tried to keep my writings safe. Recently I found a copy of a children's book I wrote for my older girls about 15 years ago. I thought it had gone forever but I found it in a box of papers. My writings are my treasures. When I'm gone, those are the things my children will read to their children. Their children may go "Grandma can't write for crap" but that's OK too. Poor poor Jo, all that work gone forever. I could feel her despair. I thought.

Then,yesterday I experienced a similar loss. While working on my blog, somehow, technically challenged me, lost a great many of the blog posts I have been accumulating over the past month. While sitting in disbelief and despair, frantically trying to figure out if they'd just been moved or if they were there somewhere hidden, I experienced a sense of loss that is indescribable. It felt as though a part of my soul had been lost. That sounds over-dramatic, there are much worse things that can happen in the human existence, but the sense of loss I experienced was very painful.

I was spared from the permanency that Jo experienced. For my story has a happy ending. After some acceptance and tears that they were indeed gone, I posted about my sadness at the online forum where I'm a moderator. Almost immediately another moderator came forward and said she'd check her google reader. Immediately, like magic, my blog posts started to appear one by one on the forum pages. My heart soared at every post. More tears flowed, tears of joy, as I saw my treasures reappear. The one entitled "The Shift", that talks of my father, the one called "Today I saw the Roses" which is probably one of my best descriptive writing examples. All of them, came back.

So while my story doesn't have the romantic element of anger, a dramatic rescue of a cherished sister from a fall through the ice, a romantic, dashing hero and eventual forgiveness, I'll take my happy ending and my little treasures that mean little to anyone but me and be ever so grateful that I have them back.

I am also forever grateful to my online friend, Autumn Breeze, who saved the day. My little story does have a hero. There is no dramatic crawl across an icy surface with a branch as per Ms. Alcott's tale but I'm calling hero just the same. And I've taken her wise advice and I've clicked the little orange thingy and added my blog to my igoogle feed so there are copies.

The Autumn Breeze is a soft warm wind, and I am forever grateful.

4 comments:

bukarella said...

I always hated that part of the story. I would have been devastated to loose that manuscript. I'm glad you were able to retrieve your posts!

Breeze said...

I'm a sucker for the dramatic so for me it was the most unforgiveable act being forgiven..pure drama!

Lisa said...

yes, i would be eternallyg ateful as well- what we have here is amazing
Lisa xx

Bonnie said...

Hi Carolyn, I have really enjoyed reading your work and look forward to reading your book! You are a gifted writer! Not everyone can make the words on a page come to life and touch someone else. Your words will bring perspective to some and hope to others. I will check in often.
Aunt Bonnie