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Lions Roar : July 2016
something that was for outsiders, not insiders.” The familiar feeling of not being “one of ” was a theme she would later embrace in her writing. After publishing a few pieces in her early twenties, Solnit began to understand the power of stories. “We think we tell stories, but stories often tell us, tell us to love or to hate, to see or to be blind,” she writes in The Faraway Nearby. “Often, too often, stories saddle us, ride us, whip us onward, tell us what to do, and we do it without questioning. The task of learning to be free requires learning to hear them, to ques- tion them, to pause and hear silence, to name them, and then to become the storyteller.” When she ended up on unemployment, Solnit had to ask herself some hard questions. She didn’t yet have confidence in her writing and assumed it would be a side project while working at other jobs. Yet she was starting to realize that her own struggles to be seen and heard could serve her voice as a writer, and in turn she could give voice to those facing similar challenges, especially other women. She decided writing was going to be her path, even though it wasn’t going to be easy. “One of the things about being a girl is that, often, no one encourages you to be ambitious,” Solnit recounted in an PHOTOSBYMIKEKEPKA/SANFRANCISCOCHRONICLE/POLARIS interview with Rookie magazine. “I got to rebel by succeeding, and it surprised everyone, including myself.” * * * “Hope is not about what we expect. It is an embrace of the essential unknowability of the world, of the breaks with the present, the surprises. Or perhaps studying the record more carefully leads us to expect miracles— not when and where we expect them, but to expect to be astonished, to expect that we don’t know. And this is grounds to act.” HOPE IN THE DARK Now one of the country’s most influential progressive voices, Rebecca Solnit has written seventeen books, numerous essays, and daily social media commentary on feminist, social justice, LION’S ROAR | JULY 2016 41