The Write Village

 

The African proverb, “It Takes a Village,” speaks to many aspects of our lives—the writing life included.  I discovered building alone was not easy. We need neighbors. Before I erected my own village, my journals were locked behind doors—suffering from rejection and fear.

I began to see constructive patterns of those who boldly paved roads around me. They had a similar foundation. So, I began the literary journey to build a village I call Write.

My mother laid the first stone. In Write, my mother lives on Main Street, adjacent to the church. Her door is always open to fill me with homemade pie… and red wine to energize my body. But when I must rekindle my soul, she points to the steeple and advises, “Every village needs a church. It’s neighbors and faith that will send you angels to guide you.”

My village of Write has a school with teachers, from the very first professor who red lined my every word to doctors and nurses who rebuild my creations today. The library houses lots of books with advice including, 101 Ways to Get Published, Writer’s Market, and Writing with Soft Hands. The shelves are lined in classics by Atwood and Twain to awaken the soul… and Harlequin romances to stir the bones.

At the village conference center, the best authors and mentors come to speak. I have autographed copies of their books, signed with encouragement like “Never give up,” or “Persist at all cost.” I visit the Write Salon after days of edits. My stylist conditions, massaging my creative brains. At the Writing Gym on Mondays I exercise with my aspiring peeps and ponder all the ways to pen “his chiseled jaw,” or “her beating heart.”The village newspaper employs agents and publishers who read my queries… and if I get lucky send one-word critiques.

My church is growing, with new angels every day, like Demi Stevens; her Year of the Book process was a road map to success that introduced me to an inspirational woman, Debbie Herbert, best-selling author, and 2017 RITA finalist, who shrouded me in incentive.

“It takes a village.” We share a path, and our community builds me up when I am adverb-tired, genre-lost, or POV perplexed. Together we survive.

This is a partial version of my story, The Write Village. I hope it inspires you.

Alicia Stephens Martin author of Spurred to Justice to be released summer, 2018.

Inspirational Woman and Hairdresser- Martha Matilda Harper (1857-1950)

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Read about an inspirational woman and hairdresser, Martha Matilda Harper(1857-1950)! Martha Matilda Harper was an immigrant, innovator, entrepreneur, and shrewd businesswoman. She boast many achievements; developed and marketed a hair tonic, pioneered the beauty industry to new heights, became the first franchiser by sharing her Harper Methods, followed by a multitude of disciples called Harperites and eventually responsible for 500 salons across the world – decades before Ray Kroc franchised McDonalds. (She was a cougar, too- marrying a man 20 years younger!) Yet, Martha Matilda Harper was swept away, buried deep underneath America’s history. How did one single woman persuade so many Harperites to assembly and adhere to her codes, to soar to their own identity by influencing them and the public that women could be independent and successful. Read the article in PBA Progress at http://www.probeauty.org

Blessed are the Women who Endured!

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I think that it is important to remember women before us who suffered great pains at the hands of a patriarchal society. Women, such as, those who were forced to believe their babies were in  “Limbo”  if they died before being baptized. According to the church, these babies never made the journey to heaven. Really? Or as for this Victorian woman who was posed with her deceased child- a popular form of photography during this time period. I think of these women often, and the hardships they endured.

Inspiration

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This is priceless! Never to early to get started on something new and different, even if it is just a new hairstyle.  Go for it today!

Martha Matilda Harper-meet one inspirational woman!

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Martha Matilda Harper-meet one incredible woman!
I discovered Martha Matilda Harper while taking a Women in United States History course at York College. My assignment was to find an American woman that was little known and worthy of a place in the history books. Being a hair salon owner and Cosmetologist for over 25 years, I have questioned who opened and where was the first beauty salon in America? No textbook in the beauty industry, historian or professional has been able to answer the question. Miraculously, (I say miraculously because the only known book about Martha is Jane Plitt’s, published in 2000, Martha Matilda and the American Dream.) I dusted off this sleeping woman whose chestnut hair touched the floor. Martha Matilda Harper was an immigrant, innovator, entrepreneur, and shrewd businesswoman. She boast many achievements; developed and marketed a hair tonic, pioneered the beauty industry to new heights, became the first franchiser by sharing her Harper Methods, followed by a multitude of disciples called Harperites and eventually responsible for 500 salons across the world – decades before Ray Kroc franchised MacDonalds.
If the study of history is about uncovering voices we must study beyond male dominated accounts. It is our job to discover these voices even when academia appears to frown on the creative trades and industries such as cosmetology. The beauty industry is one of those areas most influential in creating women’s independence in history-even still today. Martha secures her place and should be acknowledged in not only the Cosmetology history books but in both history and financial studies (her place in history way be for Mr. Kroc). How one woman attracted and cultivated a franchising dynasty with diplomacy and persuasion deserves attention! According to Jane Plitt in the year 2000, American franchising, “the business vehicle Martha created, had become the dominate form of retail. . .” (pg 162). Also, women owned business are the “fastest growing segment of business ownership” (pg 162). Thanks to Jane Plitt for taking the first steps! I insist all Cosmetologists read her book! I personally know the effort both physically and mentally it takes to employ women and service clients. I will leave you with an example of Harper’s ability of rhetorical strategy. A young girl wanted to postpone opening a shop after the 1908 fire that leveled the city of Baltimore, Maryland. Miss Harper replied, “ No, now is the time to do it: the city is flattened and confused. Grow up with it, and about in this spot is the place to do it (Plitt pg 80).” This formula was her prescription for business- slightly vicious, totally determined, yet motivating and inspiring. Like every successful stylist I know!

The Inspirational Hairdresser

imageI live in the east and the winter has been rough.  So salute to all the inspirational stylists who ignite our confidence when we need it! I suggest if you are depressed, down or in the dumps call your salon for an appointment!  A touch of beauty goes a long way!