Monday, July 16, 2012

Just Like Jo

Who do you admire? Who we choose to call our heroes may have great power over our lives, whether we know them personally or not. Do you remember who your first writer hero was? I do.

Ever since I can remember I wanted to be a writer. I wrote plays, poems, stories, and even a newsletter for my family, which I subjected them to every Sunday night at the dinner table during the year I was nine.

It seemed a miracle to me that color, excitement and action could bloom out of black lines on white paper. I still remember the Christmas when I was nine or ten and given Louisa May Alcott’s Little Women. I fell in love with its heroine, Jo March. She, too, wanted to be a writer, and her “scribbling” meant more to her than anything else. She wasn’t one of those namby-pamby, retiring, “good” girls – no, she was exciting, bold, tumultuous, a passionate rebel who had problems with anger and who rebelled against female restrictions. I strongly identified with her.

Jo March was my first author mentor. I read and re-read Little Women until the pages came out of the spine and I could recite whole chapters by heart. Jo March was my touchstone. She was how a writer was.

I was savagely disappointed when I first read Little Men, the sequel to Little Women. It told the story of an adult Jo, who had settled down to become a wife and mother, leaving her writing dreams behind. All the focus in the book went to her boys, leaving Jo relegated to the sidelines, supporting and comforting. What was even worse was that she seemed happy with her diminished role. “How could she?” I thought.

I was somewhat relieved when I read the third book about the March family, Jo’s Boys. Here I learned that Jo had retrieved her writing dreams and become a successful writer in middle age. “Better late than never,” I thought, although to my eleven-year-old mind, it seemed like a long time to wait.

Today I am struck by how my life has paralleled that of Jo March. I too showed early promise and wrote from heart-stopping passions so deep I knew I would always keep writing. But I grew up and married, had children, got a job, and left my writing dreams to molder while I made a living and focused on my kids. Just like she did.

But today! Today I, too, am middle-aged, but my writing dreams are still young and vibrant. I’ve written six books, and I help others write their books. I make my living scribbling.

Just like Jo.
Kim Pearson is an author, ghostwriter, and owner of Primary Sources, a writing service that helps others become authors of professional and compelling books and articles. She has authored 6 books of her own, and ghostwritten more than 30 non-fiction books and memoirs. To learn more about her books or services, visit
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  1. Funny I should read this post today, as my niece arrived at my summer home yesterday and spent all day up on the sleeping porch—reading Little Women. She'd been so quiet I went to check on her at one point; she was nearing the end so I backed away. When she came downstairs I asked if she'd been emotional at the end of the book (I always was, as I parted from my alternate world of new friends).

    She said, "No, I don't really like the second half of the book," and, "Anyways, if I miss the characters I can always read it again." So practical, that one!

  2. Hey, maybe there's still hope of me becoming a double naught spy?

  3. Good for you for achieving your dream. I love Little Women, but I thought Jo's Boys was terrible. I've never read Little Men.

  4. You know who else disappointed me when she grew up and became a mother? Anne Shirley. The subsequent books to Anne of Green Gables get pretty bad, too. Bleh.

  5. Little Women has always been one of my favorites, and I'll never forget the opening hook. Somewhere I read that the Jo character was drawn from the author herself.

    I, too, wrote so much as a child and then moved into the zone of wife and mother when I grew up. My writing years returned on the downside of middle age (60+), and now I can't wait to get back into the novels that are sitting on my hard drive in various stages of completion (or lack thereof).

    Those years of nonproduction in the writing arena, however, weren't wasted. Besides the obvious benefits of raising children to the best of one's ability, they also provide life lessons that can translate into both plot and character development in the more mature writer. While a book from a young author on rare occasions displays depth beyond the author's years, time typically seasons a writer, smoooths the edges, and offers insights that do not come with youth.

    You go, Kim! I'm with you all the way.

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  7. We just nominated your blog for a Versatile Blogger Award.

  8. Thanks everyone, for the kind words. Linda, I agree with you that the years spent raising kids and working in the corporate arena were not wasted - I continually draw upon the lessons/experiences I had then, in my writing. And Dani, I too loved Anne of Green Gables, who also had dreams of being a writer, and I was unhappy when she gave them up in the later Anne books - which I agree did not come close to the excellence of the first one. But Anne Shirley as well as Jo March had an influence on me and I don't think it's coincidence that the arc of my real life is similar to their fictional lives.

  9. A horrible thought: what if Peter Pan grew up? *shudder*

    Ah, well. Sometimes characters insist on following a certain path, no matter what the readers want.

  10. I too used to write when I was a kid and now in my 50s, have taken it up again. Jo March is a great example. I've been fascinated with Louisa May Alcott since I was young and now follow my writing dream by blogging about her. We talk about her life, works and legacy. Stop by at

  11. thanks for sharing.


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