My novel, No Story To Tell, is awash with conflicted, humorous, delightful, and sometimes darkly twisted characters. Writing down the travails, trials, and triumphs of these characters fascinated me. What possessed them to do the things they did? What possesses any of us to do the things we do? Creating these characters into their on-the-page selves was an exercise in layering back the veneer of outward action - or reactions - and digging deeper to find the reasons that birthed the behavior.
I was intrigued by all of the characters who arrived onto my page, but my utmost sense of wonder was reserved for Victoria, the novel's protagonist. Watching the events of Victoria's life unfold, I began to question where she had sprung from. In some ways, she was familiar to me, and in others, she was completely unknown. I began to trail back over the story of my own life to see what parts of her may have emerged from me.
I did not grow up surrounded by outwardly empowered women. My formative years were spent in a small town where traditional values and necessity were the glue that held marriages together. As with most things, there was some merit and positive influence to such an arrangement. There was also the obvious pitfall of marriages being held together when the couple (or most often, the woman) would be much better off apart.
Without realizing it, my silent-self observed these arrangements, and questioned the wisdom in them. Were these women weak, unable to leave simply because of the over-powering fear of going it alone? Or, was there something more going on? Some of these women did not strike me as weak. To the contrary, they were able, quick-minded, and courageous. It was a juxtaposition that never came clear to me.
When Victoria began to pencil herself into my life, I realized that I was now ready to learn of the deep complexity of the human spirit. And even more accurately - the maternal spirit. As I delved ever deeper into the character of Victoria, an interesting truth began to reveal itself to me. A truth that caused me to look back at certain ones of those seemingly disempowered women of long ago, and see them in a new light.
The truth that had emerged through the entrance of Victoria into my life was - that sometimes within our greatest weakness, lies our greatest strength. It was a profound discovery for me. The sort of paradigm-shifter
that causes a person to rethink their view of the world around them. For me, I was able to look back at those seemingly disempowered women who were the canvas of my youth, and see a different possibility in the choices they made. And, even now, I do not look at people with the same judgements. I am encouraged by that truth to look deeper. To allow for the fact that within those weaknesses presented to the world, lies the possibility of tremendous strength.
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