I am also passionate about creative writing and will be sharing excerpts (along with the experience of writing and editing) of creative work in my blog. Ever since I could write, I was creating poems and stories for anyone who would read them and accept them as sufficient presents (read: family). I remember a novel I wrote around thirteen or so – also known as the age when all of my heroines were auburn-haired and blue-eyed and my heroes were black-haired and pale green-eyed – called When The Daffodils Bloom. It was a Civil War story and revisited the same place every year in April when the titular flowers were in abundance. My “POEMS” document is 49,226 words. I later went on to major in Literature/Writing at university, exploring the craft further. It has always been there, this dual love of reading and writing.
After completing the PhD I spent time writing the novel idea that had been swirling around in there for years. I titled it The Beauty Still Left based on this quote from Anne Frank’s diary in the entry dated March 7, 1944:
At such moments I don’t think about all the misery, but about the beauty that still remains. This is where Mother and I differ greatly. Her advice in the face of melancholy is: “Think about all the suffering in the world and be thankful you’re not part of it.” My advice is: “Go outside, to the country, enjoy the sun and all nature has to offer. Go outside and try to recapture the happiness within yourself; think of all the beauty in yourself and in everything around you and be happy.
The story revolves around an Austrian Jewish brother and sister who survived the Holocaust and World War II in different ways–the former in the infamous ghettos and concentration camps and the latter in relative luxury at their aunt and uncle’s English estate. It is 1946 when the brother, and sole survivor of the family, is located and reunited with his sister. Through flashbacks we learn of his experience and hers and witness the evolution of them as people and siblings. After completion of the novel, I sent it out on an unedited whim and received a sudden positive interest. The feedback from that lovely agent who worked with me on it up to a point is shaping my current efforts to breathe new life and action into it. Resending is imminent.
I also have started several other works, all historical fiction and all with bits of my “expertise” on the Holocaust. The one that is the farthest along so far is called The Belsen Babies and explores the lives of two women, one an American and the other Israeli, brought together by a British student who discovered an obscure article about their origins. It begins thus in April 1945, Germany:
Two babies were born a few weeks before the liberation of the Nazi concentration camp, Bergen Belsen. Both mothers were young Jewish prisoners not long separated from their since murdered husbands. They lied about their conditions at selection in Auschwitz the previous year and spent the winter hiding the advancing pregnancies. Both women gave birth on cold wood floors surrounded by frightened and determined other women. They gave birth to undersized babies who would go cold and underfed but never unloved—small, hopeless, beautiful babies. Neither newborn girl cried much, wrapped in blankets and tucked beneath floorboards or strapped underneath coats. Each had absorbed in their mother’s tortured wombs the futility of crying. They were two weeks old when the British liberated Bergen Belsen.
There will be other stories, other ideas, more angst, more beauty. The creative writing fulfills me in a completely different way than my research.