27 January 2013

Writers are a bit like Anna

"Armeda seemed to sense this resemblance herself, but, rather than chafing against it, as I would have done, she embraced it. Dolly, after all, loved children, and showed a Christian spirit of forgiveness; Kitty, meanwhile, gave Levin the practical ballast he required to pursue his iconoclastic dreams. These, she said, should be a woman's aims.

At sixteen, service to a man or one's children did not strike me as significant goals. I wanted to do something more. I wanted to write; I was learning that then, from my passion for books we were reading. Of course, I had no idea what this meant. In real life, I'd never met a writer. I knew only what the culture taught me: Writers aren't conventional. Writers are exciting and special. Writers are a bit like Anna.

In the years since, I've come to recognize that 'exciting' doesn't always mean 'good.' Sometimes it just means 'self-absorbed.' Once, I had dreamed of becoming Anna; now I feared I really had. On the evidence of those journals, I stood convicted."

from "In Anna Karenina Furs" by Susan Olding in the Winter 2012 issue of Maisonneuve

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