You have once again proven how insanely interesting you are, Writerly Women! In case any of you missed it, yesterday I shared a marvelous picture of our Gloria reading a book entitled, well, How To Read a Book with a look of what Lily described as "disbelief" on her face. Aside from the kudos about the wonderful pink hue of her hair, your responses to the quickie challenge to write down the first thing that came into your minds were exactly what I expected. (If they hadn't been, this series would have needed some serious revamping from the gitgo ...) Here's what you've shared so far:
Jennifer G. – “How to Read a Book” was not written well.”
Pam – “Seriously? You wrote a book on how to read a book? And got it published? What the heck?!”
Colleen - “Obviously I got it all wrong up to now!”
Natasha – “I need a metaphor about apples for her cheeks because they are gorgeous.”
Cathy – “It’s me! Every time I try to read a book (watch a movie, read a blog post, check my watch!) I get a great writing idea of my own and completely lose track of where I’m at in the story. That’s my look of saying, ‘Not again! Will I never get to finish a book in peace??’” (Cathy's shortest comment on record.)
Emii – “I THOUGHT I knew. Maybe I don’t know.”
Darlo – “You must what? I can’t believe I’m reading a book on how to read a book!” (By the way, welcome to the group, Darlo! It's good to hear from you.)
Not a single person said anything close to, "I need to get that book." None of us can believe that anybody even got a thing like that published (especially those of us who have worked our butts off to even get an agent to take a look at our work!). Down to a woman, it was all, "Who needs this? I want to try pink hair!"
All of that leads me to another insanely interesting woman: Emily Dickinson. You know, Emily, right? Somewhat reclusive poet who left us, posthumously, some of the most meaningful poetry in the English language? Who among us can't recall "Hope is a thing with feathers that perches on the soul," or "I dwell in possibility," or my favorite, "So public, like a frog." She is one of us.
And when I came across this line from one of her letters, I knew that I knew that I knew she is still among us:
I go out with lanterns in search of myself.
You and I don't read books about how to read books. We don't search the internet to find what we must write about. We don't let YouTube videos and TikTok clips and Instagram posts tell us what we need to strive for.
And we don't let anyone tell us who we are.
Like Emily, we go out -- and in -- with a light in front of us -- searching, ever searching for the truth about us.
Another insta-challenge for you.
Think of an image -- if you don't already have one -- that says in its visual flash what it looks like when you are in search of yourself. Emily went out with lanterns. Henry David Thoreau went into the woods to live deliberately. (He literally did that, but the metaphor is still there) James Michner wrote of finding a mansion within that you can inhabit with dignity all your life. Poet William Butler Yeats referred to this as entering the abyss of yourself, which, he said, requires more courage than going onto a battlefield. Herman Hesse found the road toward himself.
It's interesting that all but one of those quotable people are men. Let's be the women who hold the metaphors for self-searching, shall we?
* Write down that image
* Share it with us. No explanation required.
* Come back Monday and get the next challenge. Bring your lanterns.
P.S. This is me with Henry David in 2018. I, too, went to Walden Pond.