I now realize that the character of Jo March in Louisa May Alcott’s LITTLE WOMEN was my first introduction, at the age of eleven, to the writing profession. So out of curiosity I pulled LITTLE WOMEN down from a bookshelf to see how Alcott’s portrayal of a fiction writer strikes me now.
And what I found made me smile, for the struggles that Jo March goes through are the same for fiction writers today as they were then. I’d heard that Alcott poured much of her own experiences as a writer into the character of Jo March, and it shows. If a girl came up to me and said that she wanted to be a fiction writer, I’d recommend to her reading this book to get a taste of the emotional ups and downs of the profession.
Much is here that all writers go through–first publication, the struggle to sell stories, the flounderings to discover one’s “voice”, the ups and downs of publication, etc.
Here’s an excerpt from Chapter XLII, All Alone:
“Why don’t you write? That always used to make you happy,” said her mother, once, when the desponding fit overshadowed Jo.
“I’ve no heart to write, and if I had, nobody cares for my things.”
“We do; write something for us, and never mind the rest of the world. Try it dear; I’m sure it would do you good, and please us very much.”
“Don’t believe I can;” but Jo got out her desk, and began to overhaul her half-finished manuscripts.
At the end of LITTLE WOMEN, Jo postpones her writing for other pursuits, but it is made clear the postponement will be temporary, and indeed Jo begins to write again later in Alcott’s series.