One of my favourite things to do is to sit down at my computer, put my fingers on the home row and see what they write about. Usually they lead me to find some nugget of truth deep within myself, maybe that I didn’t even fully know was there. That’s a beautiful thing about writing–you never know where it will take you.
This is a screenshot of the lower right corner of my Mac screen. I have a few favourite things here that help me be joyful. They lift me up and let me know what is possible.
I have my own poem about My Angels, four of my siblings who died long before they should have.
And I have a video of my husband and I and our two grown kids singing a quartet in our church a few years ago. There is no music so sweet for this mother.
I could have many other mementos on my desktop–I certainly have a huge rubber tub full in my basement–but these suffice. They remind me of what’s important. They remind me of my heart.
I firmly believe that we human beings need and want to connect to what is good and pure within us and that connection holds in our writing. I love to see a story resolved in a satisfying way with just retribution for the characters and the suggestion of good things to come in their future.
That old plot graph my English teacher drew on the blackboard–when, yes, they were still black and not green!–with its ascending line from one crisis to another until the final climax and denouement, that graph takes the writer and the reader to a great story. And my personal preference is to have a heroine or hero the reader can admire as a decent person.
When writing my nonfiction book about Ron Calhoun, The Man Behind the Marathons, I saw again and again the character of the man who was behind so many who stepped up to raise money for charity. Terry Fox and the father-son team of John and Jesse Davidson were especially rewarding to write about. Learning of the inner workings of those cross-country runs was doubly rewarding because I could admire all of those involved.
The Loyalist books, including the latest, The Loyalist’s Daughter, allowed me to learn about the real people who stayed loyal to the crown in 1776 but also to create fictional characters and have them interact with those who lived through the time. Doubly rewarding was finding out about my own Loyalist ancestors. I loved imagining what those ancestors’ lives may have been like. And when my research revealed events that were not so positive, I enjoyed finding ways that my characters might react. It was a heady experience, the most rewarding of my working life.
Today I have five books to my credit and another on the way. I think of them as vehicles to put my thoughts out in the world, not so much for others but because they are a way that I can express myself for myself. That others enjoy my work is the absolutely most delicious frosting on my banana cake.