Lessons Learned from Anne Shirley & Jo March, Literary Wonder-Women

{Reblogged from my original post on Dana’s lovely book blog, Dana Square}

When I was growing up, Anne and Jo were my childhood heroes. The women from Anne of Green Gables and Little Women are not only talented writers, they are also amazingly awesome female role models. My main character, Jane Lu, (from my novel The Innocent Assassins) borrows from the characters’ independent spirit. Anne and Jo haven’t just inspired my writing, they’ve also inspired several life lessons!

Also, sass. They inspire a lot of sass.

Anne Shirley

“Oh, it’s delightful to have ambitions. I’m so glad I have such a lot. And there never seems to be any end to them– that’s the best of it. Just as soon as you attain to one ambition you see another one glittering higher up still.”

And don’t be afraid to get swept away in a boat pretending to be the Lady of the Lake, apparently.

Writing Advice: Don’t be afraid to encourage your imagination.

Whether she’s making up a story about royal parentage or devising a story for a haunted wood, Anne is always in a state of make-believe. While sometimes it causes her to be swept away into all sorts of situations (stranded in a boat, for one), she never lets it discourage her from continued creativity. It’s so important as a writer and reader to keep exercising one’s overactive imagination.

Life Advice: Work hard and speak your mind.

Anne’s a hard worker, both as a student and as a teacher. She doesn’t let anyone else take credit for all the work she accomplishes, nor does she let anyone else talk badly about her! When Gilbert Blythe calls her “carrots,” she picks up that chalkboard and breaks it over his head … okay, maybe not the best example for everyone to follow. But she’s taught me to speak up for myself and for others when you notice injustice happening (even if it’s name-calling over red hair).

Jo March

“I want to do something splendid…something heroic or wonderful that won’t be forgotten after I’m dead. I don’t know what, but I’m on the watch for it and mean to astonish you all someday.”

Jo’s like “Uh oh, oh no.”
Basically, he is perfect.
It took guts, Jo. It took guts.

Writing Advice: You can begin to pursue writing at any age.

What impresses me the most about Jo is that from the moment she’s introduced as a teen in the book, she’s always chased her dream of publishing. She taught me it’s never too early to start. From the beginning of the story, she puts on plays for her sisters and composes short stories. A literary career can begin at fifteen or fifty – age is just a number! It’s all about your passion for what you pursue, not how old you are.

Life Advice: Don’t let anyone derail your dreams and never give up.

Her manuscript’s thrown into a fire, for goodness’ sake! (C’mon, Amy, was that really necessary?) She also never gives up on her dreams of starting a boarding school for boys either. Jo rejects the traditional path for women – settling down, raising children, not pursuing a career – in favor of blazing a trail of her own. Additionally, while Laurie’s wonderful (original book boyfriend material right there), she turns him down to be true to herself. She knows there’s a better match out there for her, and she hasn’t given up on finding him.
For any other fans of Anne & Jo – this.

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