Aug 1, 2015

Leading

For a class in June on leadership, we had to analyze what drives us and why we do what we do. Writing, of course, is something that's a big part of me so I knew it was going to be a part of my finial essay, but I was still surprised by how much I discovered about myself writing it. Here's a short version of my essay to kick off my WIP sharing session.

When I was young I didn't have a role model. There was no one with a full portfolio of traits I liked.

What I did have were books. I would read them and try to match the determination of one character and the bravery of another. I made up a constantly shifting patch-work person based on current reads and tailored to my desires. I emulated only what I wanted to.

Of course, big readers often transition into writers and I'm no exception. Writing and reading have become integral parts of myself.

I like to share things I'm proud of and so posted chapters of my current novel online for critique. I specifically categorized it as young adult and someone asked me why. It's a good question. The main character is married at fifteen to an executive of the company her parents work for. She is forced into sex and socially isolated by society as a whole (local laws don't even see her as human). These are not things normally found in a book for teenagers.

I gave a frou frou answer about wanting teens to be exposed to these themes, but recently revisited the question and realized something.

I wrote this book for a specific person. She is the quiet 16 year old girl who trailed into the compound behind my landlady's brother when he came home for the summer. She is the 8th grade student he married who was now expected to socialize with women at least twice her age and serve him in almost every way. I have never seen Salem smile.

I have been writing my book to explore the ways she could improve her life and find a bit of happiness. I know she will never read it. Science fiction is not very big in Ethiopia. Reading is not very big in Ethiopia. But I know I want this book to guide readers.

I want to help those who are lost, seeking guidance or connection from alternative sources because their surroundings lacks it. I will not lead them. No one person can. I instinctively knew this as a child.

All I can hope to do, in both my life and my fiction, is to provide part of a patch-work role model for the next generation.

This, thus, is half the birth of A View That Lacks Stars.

I don't have a photo the girl who inspired me, but here are girls I was able to help prepare for university while I served.

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