Writer’s Quote Wednesday // Louisa May Alcott

Hello friends and welcome to Writer’s Quote Wednesday, a weekly event hosted by Colleen at Silver Threading. Every week bloggers share their favorite quotes to inspire and motivate one another to keep writing and working toward our goals. My contribution for the week comes from the American novelist and poet, Louisa May Alcott.

Born in Germantown, Pennsylvania on November 29, 1832, Louisa May Alcott is best known as the author of the timeless novel Little Women, which I have just started reading. Originally published in two volumes in 1868 and 1869, Little Women is a classic novel of 19th century family life during and after the Civil War, in a household with four sisters. Alcott based the March family largely on her own real-life family.

Alcott had three sisters, Anna, Elizabeth and May, and they were all educated by their father, Bronson Alcott, and raised on the practical Christianity of their mother, Abigail May. She spent her childhood in Massachusetts and enjoyed visits to Ralph Waldo Emerson’s library, and excursions into nature with Henry David Thoreau.

Alcott was a tomboy as a child and grew to have strong views on politics and the patriarchy. She had a vivid imagination and liked to write plays she and her sisters would act out for friends, just like Jo March in Little Women, who she based on herself.

Louisa began writing early in life and by age 15 she was determined to find financial security for herself by whatever means necessary. She worked whatever job she could find, teacher, seamstress, governess, or household servant, but there weren’t many opportunities for women to make a name and fortune for themselves in those times.

Her writing career took off with a few of her poems and short stories began to appear in popular magazines. Her first book, Flower Fables, a collection of children’s fairy stories, was published in 1854, she was just 22 years old. She published another well received book in 1863 titled, Hospital Sketches, an account of her experiences as a nurse during the Civil War in a Washington D.C. hospital “from letters hastily written in the few leisure moments of a very busy life”. 

Little Women came into being after her publisher asked her to write a book for girls. She wrote it in just 10 weeks, “in record time for money”. The book was an immediate success and has maintained it’s wild popularity since. This was Alcott’s intent. She wrote the book to have as wide of an appeal as possible saying her “next book shall have no ideas in it, only facts, and the people shall be as ordinary as possible; then critics will say it’s all right” The plan worked, Alcott did make a lot of money. but she hated writing it. “I plod away,” she wrote in her diary, “although I don’t enjoy this sort of things”.

Over her lifetime Louisa published over 30 books and collections of stories. She died on March 6, 1888, only two days after her father. You can still visit the Alcott family home in Concord, Massachusetts where Little Women was written.

“Every few weeks she would shut herself up in her room, put on her scribbling suit, and fall into a vortex, as she expressed it, writing away at her novel with all her heart and soul, for till that was finished she could find no peace.”

Louisa May Alcott, Little Women

As a teenager I saw the 1994 film Little Women, staring Winona Ryder as Jo, and I fell in love. It has been my primary girly indulgence ever since to watch this film whenever I am feeling especially feminine and emotional. I felt it was time I read the book and finally bought it a few weeks ago. I’m only still in the very beginning but so far I love it. I think it is good I saw the movie first or I might have found the book boring. Lucky for me I have long been a fan of Jo March. In fact growing up I wished my name was Jo and I turned out to be quite the tomboy too. 

Lately I have tried to find the courage and skill to write fiction. I try to think of ideas while I’m at work or while doing mundane chores at home. Some of the characters I’ve imagined, and the plots I’ve begun forming, are starting to nag at me. I’m surprised to find my imagination is becoming a living, breathing thing that seeks me out rather than the other way around. I think I really need to start writing these things down before I either forget, or go crazy!

Next week is fall break, five whole days that I would normally have to be at work that I can now spend doing whatever I want. I think I might clean up my desk in the spare bedroom, shut myself in, and “fall into a vortex”. I might get a few little things written and I might start really learning how to tell a story.

I will write away at some characters and conflict until I find some peace.

Original image by NASA Langley Research Center (NASA-LaRC), Edited by Fir0002 [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

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Lisa

Hello! My name is Lisa. I find the human condition fascinating and I often write stuff about that. I blog at zenandpi.com but you can also find me on Twitter, Tumblr, and Instagram, and if you like what I do, consider signing up for my newsletter. Thanks :)

6 thoughts on “Writer’s Quote Wednesday // Louisa May Alcott”

  1. You nailed it for me again, Lisa. Little Women is one of my all-time favorite novels. I love the idea of entering a vortex and writing like crazy. I can’t wait. By 11/2 I will be living in Colorado! Woo HOO!

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    1. Thanks for reading. I’m about halfway through the book and I would say the biggest difference so far is an emphasis on being grateful and content in life. The movie doesn’t focus on that as much. I still like it though :)

      Liked by 1 person

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