This has been a hectic year for my husband and me. Remember that big forest fire in Washington State last summer? It burned to within yards of our house and turned 60 acres of timber at the back of our property to ash. Then the floods came. Then we were sideswiped in our new car, suffered a devastating loss in the family, and I had two knee replacement surgeries. But like Chief Dan George advised in Josey Wales, we endeavored to persevere. And it worked! Our house was saved, insurance paid for the lost timber, our car is all fixed and no one was hurt, our grief is easing, and my knees are getting better every day. Plus, I lost 50 pounds through it all. Double win!
So how is this relevant?
Writing is a lot like life—full of ups and downs, disappointments, euphoria, and sometimes a lot of self-doubt. But if you endeavor to persevere, you’ll get through it to the good stuff. I’m living proof of that.
Throughout all this drama, I was trying to write the most difficult book I’ve ever attempted—HOME BY MORNING, the story of Thomas (the Cheyenne Dog Soldier) and Pru (the educated daughter of a white plantation owner and a slave). This couple had been introduced as secondary characters in the first book of my runaway bride series—HEARTBREAK CREEK. Their story wove through the next four novels, generating a lot of mail and questions about when they would get their own book. But I had my doubts.
How in the world would I get into the heads of characters so far beyond my own life experiences?
Could I do justice to their story without getting mired down in political correctness, politics, or trying not to make them victims, or too modern in their thinking and experience?
Then I realized…they’re just people, regardless of their culture, race, background. They want what we all want—love, acceptance, and respect. So I put my head down and started writing.
And then a wonderful thing happened. A whole new character showed up, with the voice and the spirit and the charisma to help me bring Thomas and Pru’s story into the light. Lillian, Lillie, Katse’e.
She taught me a lot. How to reach outside my comfort zone and take a risk on new ideas, different cultures and experiences. How to tame the doubt with humor and courage. How to listen.
Those are worthy lessons for any writer. (Too bad I couldn’t have figured it out thirty years ago…but then some of us are slow learners, I guess). Has that ever happened to you? When a person, or a character, or an experience reaches inside your mind and tweaks it just enough so that everything falls into place and makes sense? Not yet? Then endeavor to persevere. It’ll come when it’s time.
I hope you’ll get a chance to read HOME BY MORNING. If you do, let me know what you think. I can be reached on facebook at http://www.facebook.com/kakiwarner.
And to show you how much I appreciate you dropping by and leaving a comment, I’ll be giving away two signed copies of HOME BY MORNING.
After Kaki, her husband and their coonhound retired to the eastern slopes of the Cascade Mountains in Washington State, Kaki decided to get serious about writing. She sold her first book to Berkley (Penguin Random House) the year she went on Social Security. Since then, she’s penned nine novels, a novella and a short story. It’s been a fun, wild ride, and along the way she’s been blessed with kind reviews, a Maggie, a RITA, and four RITA nominations. But what she values most are the wonderful people she’s met…both readers and other authors. So her advice: don’t let anyone tell you you’re too old to start writing, or it’s too late to try something new. The rewards can be astounding. So just do it.