"Jo was very busy in the garret, for the October days began to grow chilly, and the afternoons were short. For two or three hours the sun lay warmly in the high window, showing Jo seated on the old sofa, writing busily, with her papers spread out upon a trunk before her, while Scrabble, the pet rat, promenaded the beams overhead, accompanied by his oldest son, a fine young fellow, who was evidently very proud of his whiskers. Quite absorbed in her work, Jo scribbled away till the last page was filled, when she signed her name with a flourish and threw down her pen, exclaiming . . .

"There, I've done my best! If this won't suit I shall have to wait till I can do better."

Lying back on the sofa, she read the manuscript carefully through, making dashes here and there, and putting in many exclamation points, which looked like little balloons. Then she tied it up with a smart red ribbon, and sat a minute looking at it with a sober, wistful expression, which plainly showed how earnest her work had been. Jo's desk up here was an old tin kitchen which hung against the wall. In it she kept her papers, and a few books, safely shut away from Scrabble, who, being likewise of a literary turn, was fond of making a circulating library of such books as were left in his way by eating the leaves. From this tin receptacle Jo produced another manuscript, and putting both in her pocket, crept quietly downstairs, leaving her friends to nibble on her pens and taste her ink."

- from The Project Gutenberg EBook of Little Women, by Louisa May Alcott

Jo March

I identified with her right away. Well, almost right away. It was obvious to me that the only thing that we had in common was the desire to be a writer. She was also, of course, a character in a book, a one-dimensional character that a few actresses brought to life on the big and small screens. And I found some comfort that here was someone that I could "share" something with even though she was only to be found in the pages of a much-loved book.

I liked Jo March. I liked her right away even though she was more of a tomboy than I ever was and was more open to life than I ever could be. It was nice, as young as I was, to be able to identify myself with another young woman even if the enjoyment of books and writing stories were the only two interests that we shared.

Many years later, after I had married and moved away from home, I was reading a woman's magazine and there was an advertisement on one of its pages that intrigued me right away.

There she was. Jo March. A beautiful piece of sculpture that was based on an illustration by Norman Rockwell. And I had to have it.

I am not usually one to collect things - although that is slowly changing as I get older - not even beautiful pieces of sculpture, unless there is something about it that entices me and refuses to release its hold on me. This particular one was not too expensive. And the details on it were fascinating. Jo March sitting on the sofa and scribbling away on her manuscript. A scene that I could relate to. A scene that brought back memories of my own writing pursuits.

It enticed me. And it would not let go of me. I definitely had to have it.

A boisterous young woman who loved life and family, who shared her life with her sisters in a different time and place, and a woman who found love.

I will never know what it's like to grow up with sisters but I know what it is like to love and be concerned about one's siblings. And maybe certain actresses' interpretations of Jo March are not the Jo March that I envision whenever I would read the book or even think about the character. There is something, however, that I've always liked about her which the sculpture captured beautifully.

She was a writer. Papers, manuscripts, pen in hand, her mind absorbed in the story that she was currently working on. That is the Jo March that I know and think about.

I once aspired to be a writer. Or I wanted to write; I wanted writing to be a part of my life, not only in letters or diary entries, but to write. I remember a time during my teens when I was at the dining-table doing my (Math?) homework and my mother and father were in the living-room. Later, my mother came over and when she saw what I was doing, mentioned that they thought I was writing a story, not knowing that it was homework all along.

My parents knew of my love of writing since I was a young girl (I like to say that I've been writing since I was eleven for that age seems to pop up whenever I think about it). And whether it was for my writing purposes or not, I don't remember, but they bought me a manual typewriter when I was thirteen, and later an electronic typewriter, which were wonderful aids in my writing pursuits. And during my early twenties, when my father was already deceased, my mother was the first person I shared with when my short story was accepted for publication by a magazine. It was my first sale and I was so very delighted that I squealed into my pillow. My mother was in my bedroom with me to witness that moment. It was a good moment. It seemed too good to be true. But it was true.

I once read an article in which the author said there were those who could write a polished article when they were twenty-one. She was not one of them. Neither was I. Even that published short story was far from polished but it remains in my memory as something very real and precious.

A dream can turn into a reality. Maybe that's why the sculpture of Jo March appeals to me so much. It reminds me of what once was and what could be.

| Back |   | Home |   | Next |

Dana Lea's Graphics

Artwork by William Whitaker