Thursday, January 9, 2014

What My Book Is Really About

Most of you know I've been writing a book. It's a big part of why I've neglected this blog. I'm 5 solid chapters in, which is significant for historical fiction since I have to stop every five minutes to research whether I can say this or that word, or whether her skirt would really have been made of cotton, or to look up what date the militia stole back the gunpowder in Williamsburg for like the billionth time (I have a terrible memory).

But I'm only 5 chapters in, and I've been stuck. Not because I don't have a plot, not because I don't know my characters, not because I haven't done enough, I've been stuck because I couldn't seem to pin down the soul of the thing. I knew what it was about--history, figuring out who you are, mysticism, romance, activism--but something was still missing. Almost like trying to write an essay without a clear thesis.

Well, today it came to me, and I feel so restored and passionate that I want to share it with you. I'm just going to transcribe the brainstorm I scribbled on the back of the receipts I had in my purse, raw and original.

When you connect--really connect--with history, you feel more attached, more aware. You care more. You feel for the human condition, for the power just a few people can have and for the world-changing immensity of a lot of people united in one purpose. You see how movements start and how they take hold and the importance of standing firmly on your beliefs, of the golden rule, and of faith in humanity and of faith in yourself. Vi is a disillusioned, unemployed millennial trying to find purpose. Through Veronique (her grandmother 6 times over), through humanism, through the beginning of the civil rights movement in the wake of two world-changing revolutions to which she was personally connected--Vi sees that humanity and life itself are worth living and fighting for. That is the overall message of this book. Millennials have on their hands a world full of the most incredible technology, communication, education opportunities, and even easy travel--but rather than using these things to take our passions to an even greater potential, so many of us have become blasé, overwhelmed by input. We hear about every tragedy, see every cute puppy, know everything our friends are doing without even having to talk to them. We have so much power but have lost our passion to use it. History can inspire. Nothing gets someone interested in space more excited than the moon landing, nothing motivates a feminist like stories about Susan B. Anthony, and nothing feels more patriotic than learning about the war of independence. We don't need to lose our passion and our interests just because we're overwhelmed. History can help us remember why we care about politics, why it's so important to fight for our rights and freedom, why we should never lose our compassion or our sense of horror at atrocities, why we should listen keenly, think critically, stand together, and never, ever follow blindly. THIS is what this book, at its core, is about.

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