A verb is a word that in syntax conveys action.

The women writers displayed prominently in these photographs on what I call my ‘wall of inspiration’ were approached in the act of writing. Conveying action.

In one of the photos, Toni Morrison is sitting on a couch with pen in hand and a notebook in her lap. Years ago, I had carefully sliced the picture from my duplicate copy of The Writer’s Image, Literary Portraits by Jill Krementz in which Morrison, along with other famous writers, described her writing process.

“I always get up and make a cup of coffee while it’s dark — it must be dark — and then I drink the coffee and watch the light come…For me, the ritual comprises my preparation to enter a space that I can only call nonsecular.”

And so it goes. And here now, my selection of more comments from other women of words who have inspired me tremendously over the years.

Sojourner Truth (1797–1883) “Ain’t I A Woman?” Speech Delivered in 1851. “…I could work as much and eat as much as a man (when I could get it), and bear the lash as well — and ain’t I a woman? I have borne thirteen children and seen most all sold off to slavery, and when I cried out with my mother’s grief, none but Jesus heard me — and ain’t I woman?”

Phillis Wheatley (1753 –1784)

“Some view the sable race with scornful eye–
Their color is a diabolic dye
But know, ye Christians, Negroes black as Cain
May be refined, and join the angelic train.”

Hariett Jacobs (1813 –1897) “When they told me my new-born babe was a girl, my heart was heavier than it had ever been before. Slavery is terrible for men; but it is far more terrible for women. Super added to the burden common to all, they have wrongs, and sufferings, and mortifications peculiarly their own.”

Emily Dickinson (1830–1886) “This is my letter to the world that never wrote to me –…”

Majorie Kinnan Rawlings (1896–1953) “I do not understand how anyone can live without some small place of enchantment to turn to.”

Anne Frank (1929–1945) “Who would ever think that so much went on in the soul of a young girl?”

Virginia Woolf (1882–1941) “A woman must have money and a room of her own if she is to write fiction.”

Sylvia Plath (1932 –1963) “There must be quite a few things that a hot bath won’t cure, but I don’t know many of them.”

Lorraine Hansberry (1930 –1965) “The thing that makes you exceptional, if you are at all, is inevitably that which must also make you lonely.”

Harper Lee (1926 — ) “Well, they’re Southern people, and if they know you are working at home, they think nothing of walking right in for coffee. But they wouldn’t dream of interrupting you at golf.”

Betty Friedan (1921 –2006) The Feminine Mystique: “The problem that has no name”: the widespread unhappiness of women in the 1950s and early 1960s.”

Gwendolyn Brooks (1917–2000) “Very early in life I became fascinated with the wonders language can achieve. And I began playing with words.”

Erma Bombeck (1927–1996) “When I stand before God at the end of my life, I would hope that I would not have a single bit of talent left, and could say, ‘I used everything you gave me.”

Zora Neale Hurston (1891–1960) “Sometimes I feel discriminated against, but it does not make me angry. It merely astonishes me. How can anyone deny themselves the pleasure of my company? It’s beyond me.”

Dorothy West (1907–1998) “When I was seven, I said to my mother: May I close my door? And she said: “Yes, but why do you want to close your door?” And I said ‘Because I want to think.’ And when I was eleven, I said to my mother: ‘May I lock my door?’ And she said: “Yes, but why do you want to lock your door?” And I said: ‘Because I want to write.’”

Toni Morrison (1931 — ) “If there’s a book that you want to read, but it hasn’t been written yet, then you must write it.”

Lucille Clifton (1936–2010) “People wish to be poets more than they wish to write poetry, and that’s a mistake. One should wish to celebrate more than one wishes to be celebrated.”

Toi Derricotte (1941 — ) “…You just keep doing it, because you’re driven to it. For me, with my first book, I was able to express anger. ..”

Rita Mae Brown (1944 — ) “Lead me not into temptation; I can find the way by myself.”

Adrienne Rich (1929–2012) “I did not choose this subject; it had long ago chosen me…”

Gloria Steinem (1934 — ) “Writing is the only thing that, when I do it, I don’t feel I should be doing something else.”

Tillie Olsen (1912–2007) “I know that I haven’t powers enough to divide myself into one who earns and one who creates.”

Molly Ivins (1944–2007) “I don’t so much mind that newspapers are dying it’s watching them commit suicide that pisses me off.”

MFK Fisher (1908 –1992) “People ask me: “Why do you write about food, and eating, and drinking? Why don’t you write about the struggle for power and security, and about love, the way the others do?” … The easiest answer is to say that, like most other humans, I’m hungry.”

Sara Lawrence Lightfoot (1944 — ) “…the integration of motherhood and the world of work is a source of ambivalence, struggle, and conflict for the great majority of women.”

Dorothy Parker (1893 –1967) “I hate writing, I love having written.” “The first thing I do in the morning is brush my teeth and sharpen my tongue.”

Gabriela Mistral (1889–1957) “What the soul does for the body the artist does for the people.”

Angela Davis (1944 — ) “What can we learn from women like Gertrude “Ma” Rainey, Bessie Smith, and Billie Holiday that we may not be able to learn from Ida B. Wells, Anna Julia Cooper, and Mary Church Terrell?”

Originally published at aundrawilliscarrasco.tumblr.com.

Freelance Writer, Essayist, Blogger, Curious Social Observer. E-Mail me at: aundra.willis@gmail.com or visit https://aundrawilliscarrasco.com

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