Once again I find myself in the midst of writing a story about something that incites my passion. This time it is elder care. But before I know it’s happening, I have ranted my way down a rabbit hole, and find myself figuratively peering up, saying, “How do I get out of here?”
Writing about the topics that fuel my conscience is a challenge. At best I find myself ranting; at worst, I preach. Neither makes for satisfactory reading. I know it; my husband confirms it.
On Friday when I finished with the manuscript for the day I thought a major re-write was in order. The result was that on Monday, this week, I could not muster the courage to open the file. Yesterday, I tried a tack that I used in Autumn’s Grace—I gave all my characters permission to speak. They had observations that surprised me and they shared pieces of their history that I had not yet discovered. It was a happy 2,200 word day!
Perhaps my learning here is that controlling the narrative is analogous to digging a hole and then sitting at the bottom—alone. Giving my characters their voices, conversely, feels like being in a meadow—open, full of colour, life and possibility. I prefer the latter, and that means learning how to let go.
Bonnie Lendrum is the author of Autumn’s Grace, a story about one family’s journey through palliative care.