If I hear one more person tell me that life must be easy if you’re “just” a writer I’m going to force feed them all of my rejection letters. If they’re lacking fibre they won’t be after that meal.
Take my book, Bullets, Blood and Stones; journey of a child soldier, for example. Number of drafts: 10 and counting; number of queries sent out: 40 and more; number of rejections: unknown but enough that I am now numb and the words, “We’re sorry to inform you but ...” now play like a broken record in my mind.
If it wasn’t for the adventure of it all I think I would have quit long ago.
Yes, you read it right, writing is an adventure.
And it all began in 1996. My sister and I were on a long trip, not an exciting one, but what’s happening as we're driving was daring and mind wrenching. We’re asking each other “what if” questions and my question is making her think: You have five magical stones. Each stone can transport a person of your choice to a place and a time that will transform this person into a better human being. What five people would you choose and where would you send them?
My sister is thinking. Really thinking because she’s actually quiet and that doesn’t happen very often. “Hitler,” she says, then adds, “Stalin, Kim Jong-un and al-Bashir and ...” Well, to make a long story short, I was inspired. Inspired to write a story about the man I thought was in dire need of a stone: Joseph Kony, leader of the Lord’s Resistance Army, abductor of over 60,000 children in Uganda. Child soldier recruiter. All around nasty, horrid dude.
And this inspiration led to a trip to Uganda and then another. Trips that involved interviews with the most wonderful and endearing people I have ever met: former child soldiers who told me of an evil world created by an insane rebel leader, their escapes and their incessant desire to move forward and create a wonderful loving world for themselves and their children.
And this led to completing a book and another and another.
I know I reached my final destination when one day, after reading an excerpt from my book to a grade 7 and 8 class, a student said those words I had been waiting to hear. “I hate you Mrs. White. I hate you for showing me a cruel world that I can’t do anything to change.” To which I replied, “But you’re wrong dear. You can change the world.” And I showed her sites where she could, even as a young teen, help a former child soldier. Where she could be part of the solution.
And that, my friend, is a great adventure. Come to think of it, the adventure hasn’t ended. Charlie’s story is still making people think and reach out to help. I am so glad to be a part of it.
If you wish to help a former child soldier receive medical attention, counselling, an education and reunited with his or her family visit the World Vision website here.
8/25/2017 10:15:34 am
I feel so helpless like that student too and I'm an adult. I try to make change through teaching and modeling empathy and kindness in my classroom. When will you come out with a book for primary students? Love your work Donna. 😁
8/26/2017 07:04:18 am
Thank you Andrea! I do have a couple of children's picture books I'm working on right now and hope to have them out in a couple of years. One is an African Inspired Folk-tale that I really like.
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My journey as an author, giving voice to those who can't - or won't - speak.