In past posts, I've dedicated this column to women from the past. But I am currently reading Sara Majka's debut collection of stories and find myself in that lovely place of reading where you do not want to stop but you want to stop in order to write something that might rival what you are reading. Her work is inspirational and engaging. She creates characters I think I could be because she creates flawed characters who are not sure they are doing the right thing, not sure they'll take any action at all.
I've also been reading Lucia Berlin's collection of short stories that came out last year, A Manual for Cleaning Women.
Both women write in unadorned language with scathing, precise detail. Both women write about people who need money or need love or need something. I find that I often write about what character's have lost and now wonder what will happen if I reframe that loss into need.