What can you possibly do with a bachelor’s degree in Women’s Studies and English? I chose to write fiction for and about women.
In 1980, when my children were aged 10, 13, and 15, I was flabbergasted when my husband said he wanted a divorce. I strongly believed marriage and family would last forever. I felt betrayed by the conventional wisdom of the 1950s and 60s. I desperately wanted to find out where I’d gone wrong and what women’s true stories were supposed to look like. I convinced myself Women’s Studies would enlighten me.
Secondly, I’d wanted to write novels from the time I was 10 years old while reading the Nancy Drew series of books for girls. How I missed the message Nancy tried to give me, I’ll never understand. This girl sleuth ran around in her Roadster solving mysteries without a thought about marriage and family. Granted she still depended on dear old dad for her daily bread and had a boyfriend named Ned, but he wasn’t nearly as important in her life as her girlfriends George and Bess.
I believed in Nancy Drew’s author, Carolyn Keene and wanted to be like her. But, I soon learned there was no Carolyn Keene. Instead a group of writers hired to churn out what I call “formula” books for a syndicated book publisher merely wrote using that pen name. Twice betrayed, I vowed to get to the bottom of these deceptions and write stories for and about women. I wanted to inspire women to shake off conventional wisdom and follow their passions.
While attending Arizona State University in 1999 and 2000 I wrote many and varied papers for my classes in Women’s Studies. I’ve saved my writings and reading them helps me remember my mission to inspire women to take chances and be themselves.
The class Women and World Religions proved to be especially informative and interesting. For instance, I was fascinated to learn that The Great Goddess worshiped in Crete and Malta some 30,000 years ago bears a strong resemblance to the Navajos’ ancient beliefs surrounding the Great Spider Woman.
Snake symbolism shows up in art found in Crete and also among mound builders in America, who built a snake made of earth 1400 feet long coiled around an egg representative of a female deity. Another interesting find happened in 1980 in New Mexico close to a Pueblo village. An open-pit mining operation begun in the 1940s unearthed a stone snake 30 feet long and 12 inches high.
Snakes as a representation of evil show up in the Bible in the story of Adam and Eve. This seems almost a conscious attack of Goddess worship where snakes represented healing, and their ability to regenerate was likened to the power of the Goddess to give life. I’m not advocating for women to return to Goddess worship or embrace snakes as part of their spirituality, but personally I’m captivated by these ancient worship practices.
I think my feelings of betrayal have dissipated following an in-depth university education into the many facets of women’s history. I know the Arrowstar novels I write, featuring strong and adventurous women protagonists, draw inspiration from stories about the ancients.
Who knows what lore I might be inspired to weave into the lives of Star and Kat. What ancient artifacts might lay buried under Star’s Victorian house in Mineral City or near the artesian well close to the Sugar Loaf Mine north of Kat’s Arizona ranch?
Women’s Studies did teach me quite a bit about women. But, more importantly, it helped me to find my own unique voice through the written word.
"Take a chance, amaze yourself!"