Thursday, June 19, 2014

Writers have always needed encouragement

If you like writing, you know how much encouragement means. When others look at your frustration at writing with that, "Get over it" look, you know how much it stings.

L.M. Montgomery had very little encouragement for her writing as she grew up. If you read the Emily of New Moon trilogy, you can see Emily go through that struggle. Curiously, the characters who show the most support are men, which is interesting to ponder. I read in one place that it reflects the control of men on the publishing industry at the time.

In 1895, Montgomery decided to attend Dalhousie University in Halifax. She could not afford to take an entire B.A., but she wanted to take some courses to help her with becoming a writer. Her grandparents were not overly supportive, and neither was the small town where she lived. In an entry recorded on September 15, 1895, Montgomery reflects on this lack of encouragement:
Grandfather has shown no interest of any kind in my going. Cavendish people generally show a somewhat contemptuous disapproval. Not a great many of them voice it but Mrs. Albert Macneill -- who never cares what she says or how she says it -- expressed her opinion in her own vulgar fashion when she remarked to me the other day, "I don't see what in the world you need with any more education. Do you want to be a preacher?" 
Now, I don't care a snap for the opinion of Mrs. Albert or any of her ilk -- with my mind, that is. But I like Mrs. A. with all her shortcomings, and there is something in me that feels hurt and bruised by this attitude of old friends and acquaintances. Others are jealous and sneering. A thousand pin-pricks can cause a good deal of suffering. If I had just one friend, whose opinion I valued -- to say to me "You are right. You have it in you to achieve something if you get the proper intellectual training. Go ahead!" what a comfort it could be!
It would be interesting to study how many women throughout history felt this way about becoming educated.