I believe that we all have a story to tell. You might think your story is ordinary, but others might find it fascinating, not boring at all. I am a storyteller and love to hear the stories of other people. One question often asked authors is, ‘Why did you write your story? How did it actually come about?’ It just so happens, that I am now finding out that people are wondering these very things about my story Grounded.
I have been writing short stories for a long time , but my Grounded novel was birthed on a particular night while attending a writing class years ago led by Cathy Stinson at KPL. Cathy would start her class each week with a simple exercise to get us warmed up. She would write a word or phrase on the blackboard, for instance the word blue or the phrase, I never thought that I would… She would then instruct us to start writing. We had about fifteen minutes to write a paragraph which might be the beginning of a story. Sometimes she brought an object. One evening she brought in an old, brown, worn, crushed baby shoe. The kind infants used to wear when they were learning to walk. It was fascinating the different ideas that came forth. It made me think of war and families fleeing danger. One evening the phrase we were to write about was ‘an event that changed my life’. Without even thinking, my pen took over and I found myself writing about my incident with polio. Although it was years later that the idea actually came to be the basis of my novel, Grounded, that evening was the night the seed was planted deep in the recesses of my mind.
It’s interesting how one can suppress painful memories, but when they are dredged up again, it is surprising the strength of the emotion behind them. Years later as I was writing my story, I realized that a tear was running down my cheek. It took me by surprise. In retrospect, I think the tear was for others as much as for myself. After all I was one of the lucky ones. My legs came back to life, whereas many others were marked for life, many even losing their life.
There are many in this generation who have never heard of polio. Some older people might have a vague recollection of a kid in school having a disability of some sort from having had polio. But, although part of our history, young people are not familiar with it as they have not had anything in the past to relate it to. Enter the COVID-19 pandemic. Unfortunately, now we do!