It is often said that a journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step. My journey began three months ago, and my destination: publication. But as I go, I felt the need to tell two stories: the story in the book itself, and the story of the book and how it came to be. So, if I may, I would like to introduce myself.
My name is Katie Fortin. I am a young writer and an avid reader. Three months ago, I signed up with Jeunes Volontaries, supported by Emploi-Québec, to work on a project, the goal of which is to write a book in the span of a year. I jumped on the chance and since being accepted, I have been doing my utmost to acquit myself well.
This project is not my first attempt at writing a book. I have one and a half completed novels and an outline for a third novel, all of which are fantasy novels, a genre which I adore. This project diverges significantly from my previous attempts. My current project is a piece of literary fiction, and the reason for that is something that happened to me somewhat recently: one of my friends was diagnosed with major clinical depression. Having little-to-no knowledge of depression at the time, I did my best to help, and more often than not, failed miserably. The situation with my friend progressed and I did what I could to help but, as is the case with any mental illness, there is only so much that can be done. That realization is what led me to this story.
The story that I am writing draws heavily from my experiences, though events that take place are not directly based on real events nor are the characters real people who I know. When I was thinking about ideas that I could use for the project, I thought about my experiences with depression, what I’d lived through, what my friend had gone through, and I decided that this is something I wanted to write about. There are many wonderful resources about depression, which outline how to get help and how to help someone who you love through it, but, I personally, found them to be impersonal. I suppose they have to be, due to the fact that general statements simply have no way of speaking to each individual experience, but I wanted to do something different with my book. I wanted to tell a personal experience; not necessarily my experience, but something that is raw and emotional, painful and hurt but also hopeful and loving. I wanted to tell the story of depression in a very personal and touching way.
The flaw with this idea is that I am not depressed. I have never experienced the depths of sorrow and pain that so many do, and as such, I did not feel qualified to write about the topic as if I had. I wanted to write this story about depression and what I had experienced, but I couldn’t write it from the perspective as one who is depressed because I simply don’t know what it’s like. Thus, I decided to twist the perspective and write from the point of view of the friend of a depressed individual. This is a perspective that I understand well and that I feel confident that I can write about without overstepping the extent of my experience. And as such, Sam and Charlie were born.
Sam is the protagonist of the novel. Strong-willed and a bit overbearing, she has a driving need to help and to do what she can for the people around her. She cares deeply and tries to bring peace to situations. Charlie is a bundle of laughter and joy, always trying to bring a smile to the faces of those around her. She loves being with people and sharing a good time, but when an unexpected blow exposes a crumbling emotional foundation, Charlie slips into a depression. Willing for the pain to end, she wants the world to simply slow down and stop, but together, she and her best friend Sam have to hold on to hope, just to make it to each new day. Neither girl is perfect and both fail many times, but both care about each other and neither girl is willing to give up, either on themselves or on each other as they reach for each other’s hand and hold on until dawn.
I have chosen to write this story due to my experiences, but it is important to note that I am not a medical professional or a psychologist. If you or someone you know is dealing with depression, seek help immediately from your doctor or mental health professional. It is also helpful to educate yourself on the topic. I will leave a page with resources to help gather professionally approved information and contact information of helplines.
Though hard to write at times, and exploring dark and potentially triggering topics and conversations (which I will put warnings for at the beginning of the appropriate posts), I felt like this was an important story to tell. And I am here both to tell that story, and to give something of a behind-the-scenes view of the book. This blog is a place where I hope to share my experiences and feelings as I write, edit, market, and eventually publish the book. It is a compendium of my journey and I hope that you will be willing to come along with me for this trip.
I can offer nothing more than the inside thoughts of a budding authoress and the hope that maybe my story will touch your heart and help you to touch the hearts of others through your creativity and hope.
This is my story, and I hope that you will share yours.
I plan to update this blog once a week, highlighting word count, struggles that I’ve had with characters and ideas, maybe explore plot threads and work through ideas. Feel free to tag along and join me in my musings. I hope that there is something here that you’ll enjoy.
Welcome to my journey. I hope that it will be a pleasant one.