A year ago, I released ‘Becoming Bessy‘. It was more than a book for me, this manuscript was a journey. It was a labor of love, delving into my own roots.
As every writer knows, whose having a little writing anniversary, every book is a struggle, and a slow birth. And, I’m always working on several books on the go as well which makes things challenging. But, ‘Becoming Bessy‘ felt like more than one book. This one felt like twins lol.
I had to focus hard on ‘Bessy’s world’.
The Caribbean of my upbringing and the Caribbean of today bears a lot of the remnants of Bessy’s world, so there was a tonne of familiarity, but there was so much I still needed to contextualize and wrestle with, in terms of the telling.
Bessy’s character in a way was the easy part. The other characters were not as easy to write. Bessy is surrounded by characters who all have important roles to play in enriching the telling, and the historical and racial context, the upheaval happening, both good and bad.
At the heart of this story, I wanted to situate Bessy as a kind of lens in this respect.
Bessy has lived this story, and she’s the recorder as it were of an external colonial struggle, which mirrors her own internal suffering. Bessy’s character acts almost as a bridge, her coming-of-age journey offering hope.
By embodying much of the suffering being played out around her, it was important for me as a writer to stay true to Bessy’s character and for her to find some peace, no matter how fragile the stability feels towards the end. Her resilient character demonstrates the power of change, that an end to suffering, is not only possible, but attainable … this was important to me.
Writing historical fiction, no matter how familiar you are with the setting and the people involved, takes time to figure out that balance, between fact and fiction. It was hard work, frustrating at times, but also rewarding and enriching. The research process taught me a lot. It challenged me and surprisingly made me confront the reason why I continue to want to write.
I got a lot of clarity and integral focus back. I learned to decipher between the end product and the love of the process, no matter how long that journey may be. I realized I do ‘love’ the process, that writing slow is OK. That trying something new is always possible and ofttimes more enriching.
Bessy felt like a gift that way. Realizing you’re never done growing as a writer. That stretching, developing, and trying new creative projects is a good thing, maybe even what this gig is all about.
I also realized that’s the beauty and one of the best parts of this self-publishing game, that you have the freedom and flexibility to produce in different genres, try out pseudonyms and so on. It keeps things fresh and interesting. It has also allowed me to branch into different areas for which I’m truly grateful.
So, this writer’s note is really about encouraging all the writers out there to do their thing. That I know how tough the creative process is. I truly get it, lol. But that writing is one of those passions that refuses to let me go.
And, it’s a passion which allows for freedom of expression. I have chosen to write what I know, multicultural romance, but I’ve also written in worlds that don’t overlap, like science fiction, and last year completed this historical romance. So, this really feels like one of the best times ‘ever‘ to be a writer. The burgeoning tech space and platforms make flexible working and publishing a veritable breeze. So my best advice is enjoy the process, the journey, and the lovely people you meet along the way. Stay true to ‘you’, and don’t stop developing your skills, remembering that every journey is unique.
Peace and love,
Sample Sunday ‘Becoming Bessy’ Excerpt:
I didn’t want to stir-up any trouble for her. I knew how backward the thinking was in these parts. But I couldn’t ignore the desire tumbling through my veins.
I didn’t exactly have a plan. All I knew was I had to be near her.
Leaning against the outside wall of the house, I drank her in some more, hidden by the shadows.
She was lost in a world of her own. So beautiful, humming a seductive tune.
The strength of the moonlight bathed her, turning her smooth complexion to a glistening deep cinnamon colour. God, she’s beautiful, I repeated, taking another urgent intake of breath.
This woman had entered my world in the most unexpected of ways, and seemed so unlike any woman I’d ever met or was likely to meet. I couldn’t forget the vision that day at the beach, when I’d first laid eyes upon her. Her long hair dripping with water, her fine figure clearly visible through the soaked undergarments, she had protested bravely.
Resisted. The recollection made me smile.
Bessy was no push-over.
She was feisty, incredibly beautiful and, from what my sister had told me, unbelievably astute.
And now watching her sway rhythmically to the music, I felt irresistibly drawn to her. She made me feel possessive, jealous of any man that got to touch her in the way I wanted to, the man who got to call her his woman.
Taking a few steps towards her, my heart started to pound in my chest. I had no clue what I was doing, other than acting upon a compulsion that felt so right, a feeling so strong, it felt unstoppable.
Hearing footsteps approaching, she swung around.
Startled and embarrassed, she stopped dancing and stared, her eyes widening with a hundred questions written in them. I knew what she was thinking. She couldn’t believe I was standing there.
Neither could I …
She looked mortified too, flushed because I’d caught her.
The palms of her hands raised to her cheeks.
My body was certainly heating by the second in response to what I was reading in her eyes.
She hesitated. I noticed her lips tremble in an effort to speak. Panicked, she turned instead, running from the porch back towards the kitchen.
“Wait,” I called, hurriedly following her down the small flight of steps into the garden.
She stopped with her back to me, standing still in a way that brought home her inability to disobey my request. I shook my head in disgust. This was not the vehemently headstrong woman on the beach. This was a woman afraid to overstep her station.
(Becoming Bessy ©L.S. Bergman 2018)
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