Words, they can greatly affect how we think, how we feel, how we react to an event. Twenty six letters make up approximately 171,000 words found in the Oxford English Dictionary. And depending how these words are conceived and in which order, they can greatly affect those who read them or hear them. They can rise us up or bind us; anger us or fill us with love. And whether we read them or hear them, they can create a visceral reaction to them.
Claire Randall, the ultimate early feminist, the free spirit who grew up traveling the world with an archaeologist uncle, a woman who could swear with the best of them, a woman not tied to the conventional societal norms, who could think her way out of a problem, and defend herself in a world, so different from her own.
She survived World War II as a nurse, having watched many of soldiers parish. She understood pains and sadness. But she was resilient, she was strong. The Outlander series is about her and her split life, the one she lives in the present, the one that shakes her up in the past.
Soon after the conclusion of the war, a tired and battered Claire is reunited with her husband, her love. And as they return to each other, get to know each other again, Claire is yanked from her life and as it happened, she was sucked through a time warp, landing in 1743.
She's a survivor of a brutal war and yet it almost doesn't protect her from nearly being raped, or beaten, or kidnapped by a clan of Scotsman. As she gains focus and learns where she is and when she is, she is forced to work as a healer for the clan leader and his family.
Claire is tough, thoughtful and resourceful. I grow to love her character, her strength, her unwillingness to give up on her dream of returning home to her husband, to her own time.
But she fell in love. And I've got to admit, Jamie Frasier is by far the most beautiful man I've ever seen. And as Claire falls deeper in love with Jamie, as her confidence and strength grows, she learns to survive and thrive in this environment so different than what she once knew.
This brilliant, beautiful woman who endured so much, living in a past without the comforts of the 20th century goes home. Separated from her love and pregnant with what she assumed was her soon dead husband, she returns to her own time, 1948 England. Her first husband takes her back and together they agree to raise the baby as theirs.
Claire, after all she had been through finds the provincial life difficult to bear, she wants so much more for herself. She misses Jamie, can barely live with her husband. But she forever will be who she is, the opinionated, mouthy, brilliant and beautiful Claire. Where Jamie loved her for it, her husband Frank was not as impressed. He wanted her softer, quieter. Claire resisted, even in public, even when conversing with the head of the History Department.
As they conversed of President Truman, she interjected with what she had read and agreed with in the Boston Globe. He laughed at her. She spoke again, he shot her ideas down referring to her and her position as wife and soon to be mother as more appropriate than a well-educated and thoughtful woman.
I listened to him belittle and demean her and for the sake of Frank's career she backed down. It was that incident, that made her fighting mad, and she fought back so to speak.
I grew angry at the scene, groaned and yelled at the television. And though I do realize it was 1948, and this most like was the reality for women all over, I burned. And then I cheered, because I knew what was to come, I after all did read the book. Claire enrolled in medical school after her daughter was born.
It wasn't always easy for her or the only black classmate. Whispers and sneered followed them and yet they persevered. I was proud that they took that initial first step and stood up for themselves and their dreams regardless of what society had to say about it.
Claire inspired, she fought back, she created a life for herself that challenged and garnered respect. But the treatment she received from men left me stinging. I too want more for myself and find that when I write, when I attempt to accomplish a dream, I am far more confident and happy. When the 26 letters of the English language are put in a certain order to create words and those words are joined in a way, they can inspire, just as much as they can take down an army. Claire's battle felt like my battle and it inspired me to continue forward regardless of who underestimates my abilities. I know what I am and what I am capable of. May we all have the opportunity to hear and read those words that create love and kindness and may they inspire us.
I left with a little disappointment floating around my head. It wasn't what I had expected to be doing after a trip to Wizard World, one of the many comic cons that spring up every year. It could have been a totally cool conversation with a with an actress from a show that inspired my characters; the strong female character.
I fell in love with Buffy. The characters, the story arcs, the development and most importantly, I was impressed by Joss Whedon and his ability to create these real women. Women who are strong, who fall and pick themselves up and write their own rules.
I explained to Charisma Carpenter, the actress who played Cordelia Chase, how much I loved the show, the female strong female characters. I proclaimed my admiration for their creator, Joss Whedon and how his characters were the blueprint for how I developed my own characters.
She expressed her congratulations on my writing my books but asked me what I thought about the Joss Whedon news that had recently come to light.
I had no idea.
Charisma shared the news that while Joss was married, it is alleged he had multiple affairs and asked about my thoughts on that. My first thought, I could separate the two. The man who was raised by a feminist. A man who was a self-proclaimed feminist, who won many awards for his work.
But can I really separate the two?
It was disappointing to say the least. I had admired him for so long. What I felt was his true work, spoke to me, inspired me as I wrote about Annie Pearce., developing her in a way that made her a real woman, a strong woman. Buffy Summers as my model. Was it all fake?
As I grapple with the meaning of this news, I still feel that how Joss Whedon wrote women, was spot on. They feel real, they are relatable, and beautiful and smart and they each have flaws and issues and problems they face. Just like me. Just like my characters. That for me is real.
Is he entitled to write them? Yes he is. Do I have to admire him? I can admire the work that he has done. The characters that mean so much to me, but I no longer admire the man the way that I once was. He isn't perfect. But then, either am I. He doesn't have to apologize to me and I can still watch and love the characters that were created. Maybe some day I'll have different thoughts. For now, I'll move on to what's most important to me. Saying what I need to say about myself as a woman with dreams and goals. And maybe in the future, I should create my own blue print for the strong female character. I think I can do that.