This weekend, my poor husband’s been sick. Friday night, bored—and slightly bummed we weren’t out on a date—I broke my new TV rule, sat on the couch, ate yogurt, and watched Little Women while the rest of the Petersheim household slept.
I have two brothers and no sisters, but something about that story gets me every time (and I’ve watched it probably once a year since I was eight years old).
Each of the four March sisters reminds me of myself in her struggle to transcend the character flaws that weigh her down.
You’ve got Meg, who cares too much what others think about her at Sally Moffett’s coming out party.
Then there’s Beth, who prefers her own company to the company of crowds. (This might not seem like me, since I am an extrovert, but sometimes I have to go on a solitary nature walk or get pretty cranky.)
Amy, sadly enough, has many of my characteristics, too. She is spoiled and self-centered. Marmee says that, even during the Civil War, her youngest is more concerned about reshaping her dear little nose than in refashioning her character.
Oh, and of course there’s Jo. Watching Josephine March carry her blue writing portfolio inscribed with her initials “JM” down the bustling streets of New York City, I had to remember back when my initials were “JM” as well (Jolina Miller).
I watched Jo in her drab boarding room, scribbling away about concealed daggers and gore, and winced in understanding.
I too shunned what I knew and thought writing about my Plain heritage was beneath me. But after I received feedback on my first manuscript similar to what Professor Friedrich Bhaer gives to Jo, I had to choose if I was going to give it all up or try writing again.
Friedrich: You must write from life, from the depths of your soul!
And later . . .
Friedrich: There is nothing in this of the woman I am privileged to know.
Jo: Friedrich, this is what I write. My apologies if it fails to live up to your high standards.
Friedrich: Jo, there is more to you than this. If you have the courage to write it.
I chose to write again—really, there was no other choice. And thus, The Outcast was born.
That doesn’t mean the writing process (or life process) is always easy, and sometimes I find that the character flaws I had thought I had transcended descend again:
I care too much what others think of me.
I get too involved in daily life and don’t step outside my comfort zone.
I become frustrated and petty about details that shouldn’t matter.
Writing insecurities creep in, making me throw my velvet author cap and howl (I don’t actually have a writing cap, but admire Jo’s–hint, hint).
Thankfully, I have Professor Bhaer in the form of my patient husband, who lets me drape myself over the laptop, groan about plot/life frustrations, and then take a sip of tea and begin clacking the keys again. No worse for the wear, and rather energized by the fit.
Oh, bother. I probably should work on that drama flaw, too. . . .
And so I cling to the hope provided by Professor Bhaer when Jo laments to him her failings and he says — with a wry smile — “I think we are all rather hopelessly flawed.”
What “feel good” movies do you enjoy watching?
Here are a few more of my favorites:
Pride and Prejudice
Sense and Sensibility
Singin’ In The Rain
Seven Brides for Seven Brothers
Meet Me In St. Louis
Also, I would like your feedback about this blog. What topics would you like for me to address? I mainly delve into marriage, parenting, and writing. Is there anything else you would like to learn (how to catch an Amish man for a husband; how to make shoo-fly pie from scratch?), or one area you would like to hear more about?