This Not-So-Little Light of Mine

You might say I’ve always been a walking poster child of Henry Dixon Loes’s classic Sunday School song:

This little light of mine!

I’m gonna let it shine!

Let it shine!

Let it shine!

Let it shine!

As a precocious, vivacious, and outspoken adolescent and young woman, I was front and center for every club and cause, the president or editor of multiple literary and musical organizations, and a candidate for study abroad. Father McGinnis, the rector of St. John’s Episcopal Church in Huntington, N.Y., told me on multiple occasions that I looked like I was always “plugged in.” A ready smile. A helping hand. A fresh desire to tackle the world head on. Which I did, without restraint, going on after high school to college and then on to serve a VISTA volunteer, the domestic arm of the Peace Corps.

And then life happened. I’ve had my share of hardships. Some of these experiences caused much pain and my light dimmed a little bit as a result. But even through the darkest of times, my voice has always found its way to the printed page. Poetry. Short stories. And now through novel writing.

Viewing life through the lens of time and experience, I am painfully aware of and intensely intolerant of global injustice, especially toward women and girls. The sole purpose of my writing life now is to bring to the page disenfranchised, abused, marginalized, and underserved women who triumph over inequality and trauma. Shedding light on women’s stories—especially those who have been silenced or downtrodden or burdened or overlooked—brings me to my desk every day with renewed energy and resolve to tell as many of their stories as I can. When I’m discouraged, I’m reminded of Maya Angelou’s poignant words, “Nothing can dim the light which shines from within.”

My debut novel centered on the fictional 29-year-old character Eliza Waite, an enterprising widow who forges a new life in the wilds of Alaska during the Klondike Gold Rush (Eliza Waite, She Writes Press, 2016). My newest novel follows fictional 19-year-old Ada Weeks, a stoic and hardy young woman traveling the Oregon-California Trail in 1846 with the Donner Party (Answer Creek, She Writes Press, 2020). Waiting their turns for their time on the page are others whose stories whirl and swirl in my head.

That verve for life I possessed earlier in my life once shone as bright as the sun. Today, this not-so-little light of mine continues to shed at least bright candlelight—or maybe a torch!—in these troubling times.