Idea creation is often mysterious and vague. But I can recount the two specific events that led to the creation of my protagonist, Fiona Weston, Song of Herself.
The first. I took a walk in Spirit Lake, Iowa, after conducting a workshop in the early 1990s. I meandered down a lane of houses built on the lake. One house had a large letter, F, encircled on the side of the garage—like you see on ranches in Texas.
My imagination leapt to the attic of that garage with an old trunk and a woman named, Fiona, who was going through the trunk with a young girl at her side. They were reliving Fiona’s life.
The second. Several weeks later, I woke up from a dream in which my fantasy Iowa woman, Fiona, stood dressed in an outfit that looked like it was from India. I didn’t know what it was until weeks later when I described it to a Pakistani friend, who said it was a salwar kameez.
The morning I awoke from that dream, it continued to unfold in my mind during the next several waking hours. The skeleton of a story. It clung to me as a baby monkey clings to its mother.
A NOVEL IN THE MAKING
In the coming weeks, I wrote a three-page story for my writing group. They informed me that it was definitely a novel. There was too much there for a short story.
I balked and brought them an expanded ten pages and later twenty-five pages to show them I could tell the tale in short form. They insisted it was a novel and Fiona was begging me to tell her story.
In coming years, I took a novel writing class at the Iowa Summer Writing Festival in Wayne Johnson’s class. During my one-on-one with him, he informed me I didn’t have a 300-word novel, but a saga, one that could yield 600 pages. I won’t print my reply.
THE CURRENT BOOK, SONG OF HERSELF
In the end, the book turned into a 480-page book. If you have the book and are reading it, you may be interested to know the story took new twists and turns in the writing process. New characters and events beyond the skeleton grew out of the writing process.
My dream life set Fiona on a journey of a lifetime.
WHAT CAN WE LEARN FROM NOVELS?
Journeys of this importance create chances to open our eyes, our minds, and our hearts. They show us what we can become.
We can build confidence (self-assurance and the ability to make decisions for ourselves), resilience (adaptability and flexibility, the ability to the bend and sway as life throws obstacles), and agency (the ability to organize our lives around what is best for us, choose who and what we take with us, and take action to make these things happen).
These are things all individual need to learn for themselves as they mature. But it is especially critical for women (in our culture, which makes them second guess themselves too often) to take the reins of their lives to give the world the best they have to offer.
Fiona’s journey opened her eyes to different ways to live, seized her mind to realize she could think with an open mind, and captured her heart to know she could be who she is and to live openly and unafraid.
HERE’S HOW TO ORDER, SONG OF HERSELF
The novel’s protagonist, Fiona Weston, an Iowa horsewoman in work boots and trousers, sails to India in 1906 from San Francisco to discover her journey is not the quest for which she had yearned, nor the escape from those at home who ridiculed her unconventional ways. Fiona’s journey is fraught with obstacles that create a sturdy sense of self.
If you read the book, please leave a short review of two or three sentences on Amazon, what you liked, what you found intriguing, or what you discovered about yourself in reading the book. Thanks, so much!!!