I don't remember the first time I read Louisa May Alcott's famous novel, but a battered copy of it sits on my writing desk, beside my other childhood favorites. Sandwiched between The Secret Garden and The Three Musketeers rests the novel that introduced me to the world of writing.
Somewhere in my childhood, I picked up this classic and immediately entered a dream world. I idolized Jo March, as I know many girls have done in the century and a half since the book was first published. Unlike many of my fellow readers, I did not swoon for Laurie. I applauded Jo's decision to set out on her own in the world. Even though she was miserable in the boarding house in New York, her writing was being published, and I thought that was a wonderful thing.
The image of Jo with her cap, scribbling away in the attic, comes to me often when I sit down to work. As I grew to know more about Alcott, my fascination with her semi-autobiographical heroine only increased. Somewhere in my mind lurked this thought: if Jo could do it, why not me?
I know she's a flawed feminist heroine: I spent a good amount of time in college arguing just that point. But that doesn't change the fact the Jo March, and by extension, her creatrix, served as my own literary model as I grew up.
Even now, I send a silent wish to Jo that my words will be inspired, and that I will always find as much joy in the craft of writing as she did. I know Louisa struggled in her life, but through Jo she created beauty and bliss in the pursuit of "castles in the sky," and I am forever grateful for this literary role model.
For further reading, check out this piece.