Write what you know.
Popular writing advice that may give people the wrong impression about me considering the fact that my book includes magick, non-literal dragons, and ritual sacrifice. I promise, my life isn’t quite that exciting.
What I do know a lot about, however, is fortitude.
In my debut YA Fantasy novel Songs Of Autumn my protagonist, Liz, has known her entire life the exact day she was slated to die in a ritual sacrifice. Her death is meant to save the entire kingdom from starving in an eternal winter. So immediately we see that she’s put into a terrible situation with seemingly no solution.
This is exactly how my struggle with infertility felt.
As a young woman I’d known that I had a desire to be a mother as long as I could remember. When dating, my husband and I often talked about our expectations to have a large family. So, when it became apparent to us that our journey to becoming a family wouldn’t be easy, it was devastating. Not only as a couple; it shook the foundation of my identity and made me question my role as a woman. Liz goes through much of the same. Her entire life she’s been told that she’s a sacrifice, destined to die, and that terrible things would happen if she didn’t. It takes a lot of courage for her to dare to defy those expectations and to fight for a future she was never guaranteed.
Sacrifice became a cornerstone of my identity as through increasingly invasive procedures, my body, my autonomy, and my hope all seemed to be under the care of physicians instead of belonging to me anymore. I started to equate my quest for a family to others, like that for the holy grail. With each leap forward, the hope of having a baby seemed further away. Also similar to Liz, I found myself isolated from the people I cared about during this journey. Infertility has a stigma of shame surrounding it, even though 1 in 8 couples experience infertility and 1 in 4 women will know the loss of miscarriage. I find that people are so terrified to talk to their loved ones due to fear of upsetting them, that oftentimes they end up making the infertile couple feel more alone.
There were so many times I wanted to give up. I wanted to just stop trying so I could stop getting my hopes crushed, over and over again. It would’ve been easy to quit, but I knew nothing worth having ever comes easy. Through every loss and disappointment, something inside of me kept telling me to stand tall and carry on. I’m so glad that I did.
Part of what I love about writing is the ability to connect to readers through our shared human experience. Even if the circumstances are fantastical or not similar in any way, all of us can relate to feeling alone. All of us can understand questioning our identity or hoping for things that seem out of our reach. Writing what you know doesn’t have to be literal in any sense. As long as the truth of what you’re writing speaks to the human condition, your readers will be able to empathize with characters that feel real and natural; because they’re born from parts of you that you share with the word.
Songs Of Autumn was born from my fortitude; armed with little more than the hope of a different future than the one I was being told to expect. I dared to defy my fate and won. Now I can’t wait to share Liz’s journey with all of you.