Updated: Aug 30, 2020
Hi readers! I have been thinking about this blog post a lot the past few weeks, but couldn’t quite make myself finish writing it until today. Since March was Women’s History Month, I was contemplating which women inspire me. This led me to thinking about which female writers inspire me. The original blog post was far too long, so I had to break it up into two parts. The easiest way to divide it was by inspirational female writers who are still alive and those who have passed away. Part 1 will focus on 5 living female writers who inspire me.
1. J.K. Rowling.
Do I even need to explain this one? It drives me crazy when people say JK Rowling is an entitled, wealthy woman who didn’t work hard for the life she has today. Her story is so inspiring! Not only did she raise her oldest daughter as a single mother after leaving her abusive husband, but she also managed to persevere with her writing despite Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone being rejected by 12 publishing companies. She was also the first author to become a billionaire, but donated so much of her money to charity that she lost her billionaire status. She continues to donate a large portion of her time and money to charities, including the one she founded, Lumos, which works to stop the institutionalization of children internationally and ensure children grow up in a safe and caring atmosphere.
JK Rowling was the first writer to inspire me to write. I remember pre-ordering each book as it was released and staying up all night to read it, usually neglecting my homework and sleep in favor of being one of the first to know what happened next in the series. My generation grew up with the Harry Potter books and movies being released. For me and so many others, Harry Potter became interwoven into my childhood and had a lasting impact. This is the book series that changed the course of my life. Before reading Harry Potter, I don't think my 8-year-old mind had yet fathomed that being a writer was a viable option, so I decided then that was what I wanted to do. After being enamored with Harry Potter for so many years, when JK Rowling released The Casual Vacancy, then the Cormoran Strike detective novels, I was reminded once again of her immense writing talent, expertise at crafting realistic characters, and capability for telling an intriguing story. The Cormoran Strike novels even made me realize JK Rowling was capable of excelling at writing well in multiple genres, which is no easy feat.
2. Rupi Kaur.
As a writer and feminist, Rupi Kaur is one of my role models. She is Indian, but her family moved to Canada when she was young. She writes about her heritage, her ancestors, and touches on how different her life is from her parents’ lives. Not only did she originally self-publish her first book of poetry, Milk and Honey, but she amassed a huge social media following on her own through Tumblr and Instagram. She later on published with Andrews McMeel and became a New York Times bestselling author.
The messages, lessons, and reminders from both of Rupi Kaur’s poetry books are incredibly important for both women and men. I especially love that she tackles topics that are often difficult to talk about. I think she is an inspiration to this generation for using social media to share her poetry with the world, for her unique style, and for being honest and real in her writing.
3. Anne Lamott.
Anne Lamott was introduced to me by one of my English professors in college. We read her novel Bird by Bird. After reading her essay “Shitty First Drafts,” I had a moment of clarity upon realizing that even successful, published authors write shitty first drafts. Anne Lamott’s bluntness in advising young writers to write without caring how badly the rough draft turns out is what inspired me to begin and finally complete my first novel. Although I have not read any of her other novels, they are on my list of books to read and I would love to know what else Anne Lamott has to say.
4. Barbara Kingsolver.
The Poisonwood Bible was given to me by my aunt when I was in college. This is the only novel of Barbara Kingsolver’s that I have read, although I plan on reading her other works. However, the poetic writing in The Poisonwood Bible was so beautiful; just reading one of her books was enough to make me a lifelong fan. Her heartbreaking tale of a family coping with an unexpected loss, told from several points of view, was at times difficult to get through because it felt so real. Several phrases from this novel stick out to me and haunt me years later. To me, that is one of the key factors that go into becoming a good writer: writing something that your readers continue to think about years after they read it.
5. Margaret Atwood.
Margaret Atwood’s diversity in her published literary mediums (novels, poetry, non-fiction, short stories, etc.) has made me realize it is possible to successfully write in more than one medium and still have readers remain faithful to your work. What matters more than the method is the story you’re telling, the characters you’re creating, and the words you’re writing.
I’ll admit I watched the Hulu TV show version of The Handmaid’s Tale before reading the novel. I think this was a mistake because the novel and the TV show are two completely different stories, but the show intrigued me enough to want to read the novel. The basic premise is the same, but changing the time period drastically altered the heart of the story (but I could go on and on about this, which might be good for a different blog post)! After reading The Handmaid’s Tale, I reflected on the state of our world today, how women are treated and viewed by men and by each other, and how far we still have yet to go. Although the world isn’t as inherently sexist as it was in the 1980’s when The Handmaid’s Tale was written, a lot of change still needs to be enacted for not just equal pay but equal rights. I would love to live to see a world where women are treated fairly, a world where women are seen as more than just a way to have children, which is much of what The Handmaid's Tale centers around.
Keep checking back for Part 2 of this blog post coming on Friday!