After the Writer’s Getaway this year my husband and I did some travelling around the areas in
where the ancestors I want to write about next, came from. I sat with some relatives I’ve never met, but had arranged to meet up with. I heard their stories and memories. I got a sense of their personalities. New South Wales
Some of the small towns we visited; Lawrence, Brushgrove, Mororo, Midginbil, are places I’ve never been to before, and are probably smaller communities now than they were 150 years ago. It’s a strange and inspiring experience to wander in these places, to imagine the lives of those who once lived there, and from whom I’ve descended.
It occurred to me that researching for a novel is a fascinating journey, and also a very therapeutic one. Whether searching for facts about people, or historical events, or choosing an environment or particular era for a story, I’m sure we all, as writers, go on a very evocative journey, before we even start to write.
We reflect on the ways people interact, how they change and grow, how they fall in love and develop relationships, how they cope with trauma and loss, how they achieve great things, and how God works in and through the lives of people. We try to step inside other people’s worlds; people who once lived or who are complete works of fiction, and we draw on our knowledge about how human beings function; what makes them do the things they do and respond to their world the way they do. We imagine ourselves in places and situations and relationships we may never have been, or we go back in our minds to what we have experienced and learn from it. Some may project forward to how things will be in the future, or imagine other kinds of worlds where love or hope or goodness may better be experienced.
Surely we can’t help but be changed ourselves by this process. These exercises of the mind and heart are not unlike those I would use in therapy with people who are stuck emotionally or relationally. Remember, imagine, re-construe. These can lead people to find release from the past, to find closure, to discover hope, and to make real behavioural changes in their lives.
This is surely what we offer our readers as well; an opportunity, not only to escape for a little while, but to imagine other lives, to discover new things about themselves, and hopefully to re-construe some parts of their own lives, and then to make real and positive changes; emotionally, relationally and spiritually.
So I think the writing experience from beginning to end, for writer and reader, is not only enjoyable, but also very therapeutic, a wonderful tool in God’s hands. One more reason to keep writing – as if I needed another reason to do what I love.
There are three books available in my Turning the Tide series, for which I am doing this research; Mary’s Guardian,
’s Angel and Tangled Secrets. The fourth in the series, Truly Free, will be released in 2013 Charlotte
Forgiving Michael, an earlier novel, is available to read on blog http://www.carolpreston.blogspot.com
Suzannah’s Gold, my first novel, is available on e-book http://www.amazon.com/author/carolpreston