In my previous post I aimed to explain why I wrote The Girl From The Killing Streets. This morning let me try to amplify that.
I am no longer in what is often described as “the full bloom of youth.” One day I will not be here. I will be a part of the past. History. Maybe that is why two thoughts so often occupy my mind these days. Firstly, what have I learned from the experience of being here? And, secondly, what will I leave behind for future generations?
It was an eye-opening thought when it first occurred to me: what will I take with me when I leave this life? Only one thing, I decided. I will take with me only what I have learned from the experience of being here. Everything else will be left behind. From that I deduced that ‘learning’ has been a major part of my purpose in this life. Not classroom learning. My task has been my personal develoment through ‘experiential’ learning. In other words, learning from my various life experiences. So, I ask myself, what have I learned? Well, some of that experiential learning went into my books.
Then I turn my thoughts to what I will leave behind for future generations. As a former air traffic controller, I have very little to pass on. But as a writer, there is a lot I can leave behind when I eventually leave this life. When I write a novel I aim to do more than relate a story. I aim to make the reader think. No more so than in my latest book, The Girl From The Killing Streets. Outside of Northern Ireland, most people have only an edited view of The Troubles, based on what they read in their newspapers or saw on their televisions. As for the younger generation, how can they possibly fully understand what it was really like in Northern Ireland in those harrowing days? I cannot take anyone physically back to that time but, as a writer, I can help them understand how it felt. And, when I am gone from this life, the fruits of that exercise will remain… in my writing, in the words I leave behind. People will still be able to read my book and gain some understanding of what it felt like. If they can learn about the past through my writing, and make sure it never happens again, my work as a writer will have been of value.
That’s a comforting thought.