Friday, April 18, 2014

Passion in Writing

Heaving bosoms? Throbbing members? Sorry, but that’s not where I’m going with this. I’m talking about the passion that drives us to do the things we do. In my mind passion is a must for authors. We have to have passion for the writing itself and passion for the things we write about.  
I also believe that our writing reflects our passions and they are revealed when we see them on paper. This came as a bit of a shock to me when I looked back at what I had written. My intent was to write an entertaining novel of magic and romance. I didn’t know it would grow to four books before the “happily ever after” ending. Nor did I know, when I began, that my books would touch on a number of serious world issues.
Rereading my novels is an exercise in discovery. I see that teaching and teens play significant roles in each. I was an educator and most of my career was spent working with grades seven to nine, so I guess that’s not so surprising. I criticize anyone who denigrates teaching. Teachers get the whole world started. And I refuse to accept the answer, “I’m just a teacher” to the question, “what do you do?” I believe all children should have a solid education base and I wish I could wave a magic wand to make it so. Yes, I’m passionate about education.
I also rant about war, the media, rich versus poor…. How could I not after having lived in Mali, traveled extensively in Africa, not to mention all the time I spend in Mexico? If I were to make a list of injustices, it would be a long one. The problems are much too grand for any one individual to solve, but we can impact the whole if we make our own little corner of the world a better place.
A recent survey asked people to rank the things they looked for in their fiction reading. I was surprised to see that “learning something” was number one. On reflection, I realize that the books I love best are ones that teach me something. In Domingos Angel I learned about conditions in Spain during Franco’s rule. In The Nine Lives of Charlotte Taylor I learned more about Canadian history. In The Winter Pony (an amazing story told from the horses’ point of view) I learned about the trek to the South Pole. The list could go on and on, but what is most interesting is that the books I learned something from are the ones that remain most vivid in my mind.
I, too, try to get readers thinking while they are being entertained. Perhaps that’s yet another passion. I do hope my stories will be vivid in readers’ minds long after they have finished reading them.