I first discovered Toni Morrison when I was in my twenties. No, not with an assignment on Beloved, but in the wondrous prose that opened up her novel Sula. From there, I read Song of Solomon, and Tar Baby, and though I would eventually read Beloved, it’s not my favorite of her books.
Most of the writers I ‘discovered’ in my early twenties were women writers, mostly from minority backgrounds. Toni Morrison, Sandra Cisneros, Leslie Marmon Silko, Maxine Hong Kingston and more. While I had always been a lover of books and words and poetry, my ears and heart hadn’t been exposed to these amazing writers until my college days. It made me understand more about myself as a person and as a writer.
I’m too torn up upon hearing of Toni Morrison’s death yesterday to write much, but I do want to say that I’m grateful for her inspiration. The opening scene of Sula stays with me even though it’s been decades since I’ve read the novel.
And even though I sometimes pause or meander in my own creative writing, I hold onto Morrison’s words as the signature for my email, so that I can be reminded that I have goals and the means to achieve them:
“If there's a book that you want to read, but it hasn't been written yet, then you must write it.”
~ Toni Morrison
A great legend has passed away, but her words will inspire for centuries to come.