As I alluded to in my previous post, as authors we are committed to getting it right, so we research like crazy and learn to listen to our characters. To help ease any doubt, or insecurities, we may face during the writing process—there are these lovely little gems of confirmation that come our way. I’d like to share a few of mine.
While I was writing my first novel, Tears from the Sea (TFTS) I spent a long time creating the section where my sea gypsy heroine Kawi stands on the cliff out of harms way and watches the tsunami obliterate her family. I agonized over this pivotal part until finally, the passage felt right. This came to be, when I was describing the scene, the tsunami became the wave that ate Kawi’s family. Much later, when I was doing additional research, I read the oral testimony of a Thai sea gypsy who referred to the tsunami as, “the wave that eats people.” YES! This was my first triumph as a writer, I felt that I had successfully gotten into the mind of my character.
When I first returned from SE Asia, I was injured and the only exercise I could do was aqua fit. I was very resentful that I couldn’t bike or run but I grew to appreciate and, dare I say…enjoy fitness in the water. I’ve always loved to swim so it wasn’t a far cry for me to identify with Kawi’s love of the sea. In the opening sequence, when Kawi dives into the water, can I just say…there were many ‘a dives’ in the pool to try and describe the sensation of feeling engulfed by water. Throughout the duration of writing the first draft, I did aqua fit which, I believe kept me connected with my character. If an injury could ever be considered a blessing in disguise this one was.
As a writer, you become very attached to your characters and when young Kawi was swept into the world of human trafficking I struggled with surrendering her to all of the horrors she would encounter therefore, her first contact in the trafficking chain was Snake Eyes—I made him impotent. When I couldn’t avoid it any longer, after evil entered Kawi for the first time what gets her through the experience is her head bashing against the wall and the fixation of the bruises forming on her head. I later read an excerpt by a prostitute who spoke about her first experience with a male client and how she also took comfort that her head was banging against the wall the entire time.
After I had finished my book, I went through a period when I was more panicked than normal. I doubted my research, my writing—you name it—I doubted it. Giving into the negativity, I began re-examining my research materials. I picked up Jacques Ivonoff’s book about sea gypsy myths and stumbled across a section where death was symbolized by coral and sea shells. In my story, when Kawi has a funeral for her entire family, I had written that she selects a sea shell or a piece of coral from the sea that most reminds her of family member. Careful consideration is given for each choice. Can I just say…I was happy for this little gem of confirmation and a little less panicked.
What’s your favourite I’ve got it right confirmation?
Activist, World traveller. Fan of Reese's Peanut Butter Cups.