In my last post I shared some of my experience with you about my trip to the USS Hornet to meet with the WW2 Japanese American Vets and assist a lecturer who spoke to the group. I learned so much about pride, collaboration, patriotism, and prejudice. I’ve been thinking over the last few days how this opportunity has given me a chance to see the bigger picture concerning the events I’ll be writing about in my novel.
The big picture is important because it will add validity to my story. But when I go back and break down the small pieces of the big picture, I see each individual life and each family affected by something huge – something beyond their control. Something beyond their wildest imagination or worst nightmare.
This is the humanity in my story.
This is what touches me and anyone who might read my book someday.
This is why I write historical fiction.
This is why I went to California to meet with strangers and gather information about what shaped the destiny of thousands of families in our country while the whole world was at war.
These were real people and real events. I want to make them come alive again, even if only in the pages of a book. They deserve the attention.
On my flight home from this weekend adventure I sat next to a woman who appeared to be in her mid-60s. She told me she was an educator and we chatted about her job and my writing. After explaining about my weekend and what I was writing about, she said the most revealing thing to me:
“Well, the Japanese Americans were sent to the internment camps for their own protection. But they don’t understand that.”
I was so astounded at the ignorance of this woman educator, I couldn’t speak. Instead of sounding a rebuttal, I chose to quietly ponder her statement. I knew I would never be able to change her viewpoint in the few minutes left in our flight. But I walked off that plane with a new determination to share a different point of view– the true one. Even though it will be in fictional format, true facts and places will weave through the lives of fictional characters.
I have done my research, talked with the experts, and thought it through in my mind. I’m glad that woman said what she said to me. It gave me a yet another reason to keep doing what I do.
Am I glad I went to the trouble and expense to attend this event? Yes. Will I ever see the fruits of my labor? I don’t know.
I only know I want to leave behind a story that might touch, educate, reveal and entertain. This weekend adventure will be the catalyst for whatever my book turns out to be. That’s a cool thing.
What would a research or discovery adventure look like for you?
Melissa Tagg says
Wow, what an experience your research trip must’ve been, Jan. Such an interesting time period in our history, but an aspect of it we really don’t read much about.
Jan Cline says
It was a great trip and I love this era of history. I hope to write more about it in the years to come.
Have a great week.
Writer Pat Newcombe says
These are the reasons why many of us write – whether fiction or non fiction… It’s because we have something to say and we want other people to, at least, think about what we say… They say the pen is mightier than the sword, don’t they? Best of luck with your work – it sounds as if it will be fascinating…
Sarah Sundin says
What an amazing experience! I love the USS Hornet and take visitors there whenever possible. That woman’s statement is fascinating. That was a common belief during the war – and there’s a bit of validity to it, because the Japanese-Americans faced often violent persecution – but to live in 2012 and still hold that belief is stunning. Thank you for writing about that aspect of the war. It’s far more nuanced than most people know.
WOW Jan, what an amazing weekend! From the education you got about the Japanese to the education you got on the plane, God knows what He is doing with you and through you. I”m SOOOOO excited for you! You’ve got so much information now and a unique perspective! Can’t wait!
Karen Lange says
Sounds like a wonderful excursion! Glad you shared the details with us. Looking forward to reading your book! 🙂
Jan Cline says
Thank you everyone for your comments. It’s been an amazing experience and like all of you I’m learning so much as I write about things that interest me.
Blessings to all.