“Trust in what you love, continue to do it, and it will take you where you want to go..” Natalie Goldberg
People often assume now that I have two books published, the process must be easier. But in fact, every time I begin a new project, it is like starting from scratch. Each one presents different challenges. There is no guarantee that this new story will be successful. When I asked one of my author friends what she was working on she said, “Oh, you know. I just do what I do. Sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn’t.” It’s helpful to know that even highly successful, highly prolific writers have projects that don’t work. The best thing you can do is find something you’re passionate about, regardless of what others think. Write what you love. It won’t be a waste of time!
You’ve no doubt heard the adage, “write what you know.” It’s a good thing that I hadn’t heard that sage piece of advice before beginning my historical novel of the deportation of the Acadians from Nova Scotia in 1755, or Winds of L’Acadie would never have gotten written. I’m not Acadian, or Roman Catholic or French speaking. How could I possibly relate to the Acadian people? How could I tell their story? What I did have was a passion to tell this tragic tale in an English language novel. I went to university in the Annapolis Valley and absolutely fell in love with this postcard-perfect idyllic place. Staring up at the huge weeping willow trees that exuded peace and tranquility, it was hard to imagine the devastating tragedy lurking at their roots.
When I made the trek west to Alberta from Nova Scotia, I was surprised to learn that so few people were familiar with this terrible tragedy. It became an obsession of mine to tell the story. It took an incredible amount of research. Books. CD’s. Videos. Acadian people. Museums. Archives. Libraries. It was fascinating. Heartbreaking. Exhausting. But what kept me going was my passion that today’s youth learn the story. I wanted them to picture themselves in 1755. Imagine the life of the Acadians. Imagine being ripped from your home. Imagine being separated from your family. Imagine being strangers in a new land where you were not welcome. Reading the military account and memorizing the dates do not fill in the context or convey the emotional cost of this devastating blight on Canada’s pre-confederation history.
It was a steep learning curve, no question. And it took many years to see Winds finally on the bookstore shelves. But through it all, my passion for the story and my mission for getting it out there, kept me going. Instead of telling young writers to “write what they know,” I always say, “Write what you love.” If you are writing a novel, you are going to be at it for a very long time. It’s the passion that will see you through the many curves and challenges on your way to The End.
Check in tomorrow for an exercise to free your mind, while still focusing on your work-in-progress.
And always remember to trust in what you love.