I have been truly humbled today by someone’s generosity of spirit. As I grumbled about my difficulties getting a small piece of work right this woman was undergoing radical changes to her life as a result of a health issue. Yet she still found the time and humanity to give me a pat on the back.
Now, doesn’t that put things in perspective. As we sit at our computers typing away and creating our pretend worlds somewhere someone will be facing real life dangers, issues or adventures. While my heroine is struggling with her love issues, a real life heroine will be dealing with real life dangers. We are told as writers that we should write from our own experiences; as we all know we should write about what we know. I am certain that everyone of us knows someone who has used their writing as a therapeutic exercise, whether it has been to express grief, anger or joy.
A few years ago, I sailed across the Atlantic on a smallish yacht in a rally of a number of boats. Every single person on that adventure had their own story to tell at the end of the passage. Some of the stories were of self discovery, some were of unexpected adventures. One man, who suffered from dyslexia, wrote his own book and others wrote diaries. Some people discovered that their relationships grew stronger whereas others jumped ship before their boats were tied up at their journey’s end. One man became critically ill, leaving his wife to sail a large yacht single handed and another man spent over 24 hours in the sea when he was knocked overboard.
My own story was not that dramatic; we left one harbour and sixteen days later arrived at another. Mid ocean we swam behind our becalmed boat and a day or so later lost all of our electric power leaving us with some interesting challenges of navigating by the stars and how to manage food storage, sails, communications and all of the other things which are supported by power.
In writing my novel I am drawing from some of those experiences to develop the character of my heroine. On paper she does not live on the sea or sail a boat however it is observing how someone reacts to adversity or indeed any given situation which is how I am writing about what I know. My life as a nurse, midwife, wife, mother, sailor, daughter, friend, success, failure, and more informs my writing but in particular it is my observations of the wonderful human spirit which inspires me.