The novelist Mary Morris explains how the opening line of One Hundred Years of Solitude shaped her path as a writer.
By Heart is a series in which authors share and discuss their all-time favorite passages in literature. See entries from Colum McCann, George Saunders, Emma Donoghue, Michael Chabon, and more.
When I was her student at the Iowa Writers’ Workshop, the novelist Marilynne Robinson told our class it was almost unthinkable for women of her generation to become writers. Society afforded women with an extremely limited range of opportunity: You could be a teacher, nurse, or homemaker, she said, and that was about it. Other paths—especially professionalized, artistic ones—were possible, but extremely hard-won.
That was the challenge facing Mary Morris, author of Gateway to the Moon, after she dropped out of grad school in the 1970s. For years, she’d worked in secret, living a kind of creative double life—writing constantly, but never sure she was really a writer. No one ever told her how the verb might earn the noun.