On the second leg of my recent holiday, friends asked the subject of my WIP. It’s slightly difficult to describe without giving away the initial plot line, but past that, I noted it’s about love, PTSD, war, faith…. It’s a big book, plenty of room for various themes, but it would be nice to settle upon a main idea to easily sum up The Hawk.
A couple of days ago I flipped to the next quote in my page-a-day calendar, finding the essence of my novel encapsulated in a single sentence: To love a person is to learn the song that is in their heart and to sing it to them when they have forgotten. I meditated upon those words as I finished dressing for the day, but no one was attributed to such a statement. Fortunately, the internet provided me with the sage, one Arne Garborg, a Norwegian writer and linguist. According to Wikipedia, Garborg championed the use of Nynorsk (New Norwegian), in addition to tackling the issues of his day. I had left up the tabs for Garborg, as well as not moved my calendar ahead, just so I’d remember to write this post. For this quote truly sums up the last three years of my writing life, as well as chunks of my personal existence.
But let’s first talk about The Hawk; initially I had in mind a short story. Then within weeks, I found a much larger project had developed. I wasn’t scared off, for I’ve written another series, and it felt good to sink my teeth into something so different than anything I’d previously created. Magical realism has been a thrill to incorporate into the story, but this novel is grounded by factual events of the era, which is the early 1960s. I’ve learned plenty about the Cuban Missile Crisis, JFK’s assassination, and how The Beatles were first introduced to America. But the novel’s main focus is human relationships, my stock in trade. Several love stories are being told, not all of them romantic. Finally there is war and how that colours the soul. Early on I came upon a quote by GK Chesterson, which for a good while highlighted my work: The true soldier fights not because he hates what is in front of him, but because he loves what is behind him. Perhaps the first half of The Hawk is based upon Chesterson’s words. The second half required different guidance.
I can’t actually say how much I’d written before my father died in April 2015, certainly a decent amount. When I came home from caring for him and my youngest and her new baby, writing was far from my brain. I sewed quilts, experimenting with the improv style that now forms the basis of my crafting. By August of that year, I felt able to sit at my computer, and since then I’ve been steadily churning out chunk after chunk, interspersed with family, fabrics, and finding my way post-Dad. Recently my friend Laura Bruno Lilly noted that this novel’s length might subconsciously be related to how long it takes to grieve, and I would agree. How much I have grown as a person during the last three years is directly related to my father’s illness and death, becoming a grandmother, and still eking out chapters of a tale that has evolved from a mystical historical yarn into…. It truly is a love song learned from my beloveds, kept in a safe place to return to them wherever they might be. Where I am within the story, it’s as if Arne Garborg was waiting for me to reach 25 August 2016, even if he’s been dead for nearly one hundred years. I have one final part to complete and his quote is a beacon illuminating the safe shore.
When writing any kind of story, be it a saga or flash fiction, I am firmly led by my faith not merely as an internal compass, but for how the words are placed upon the document. A combination planner and pantster, I don’t try to overthink the plot, although I’m not adverse to taking down necessary notes. Is it a coincidence that Garborg is Norwegian and Klaudia lives in Norway? Ha ha, perhaps. Or maybe just how threads of my work interconnect in unexpected manners, richly flavouring a tale with very humble beginnings. My biggest goal as an author is twofold; to entertain and uplift. But behind those notions is how this work pertains to my personal enrichment, often surprising me, as well as delighting. I love to sing, in addition to writing, so it was with a sly smile I read Garborg’s quote, also with a profound sense of gratitude, both for the insights and how blessed am I to perform this task. It’s been a while in the making, but good things do come to those with patient hearts, both the reader and the writer. And the lover; to learn another’s heartsong doesn’t happen overnight. Yet, once that that intimate knowledge is accrued, miracles are possible. I knew it many of the days I spent with my dad, I feel it daily with my husband, children, grandchildren, and other relatives. I can’t escape it as this story winds down, but in that case, often I am the one being sung to. And good thing, for many loose ends remain in need of resolution. As I await this novel’s conclusion, I am aware of copious grace wrapped in a blessed melody. When I forget this or that point, I simply close my eyes, permitting an otherworldly guidance to set me aright. Music has long been an inspiration, but not always are the tunes of a corporeal strain.