Write what you know.
I wrote my first draft of Chase the Ace in November, during the daily reveal of sexual predators in media, entertainment, and politics. I’ve worked in and near those environments, and they are the workplaces of my characters, so some of my experiences informed what happens to them.
Real life has a habit of getting in the way, so as news of inappropriate behaviour by a politician emerged in Nova Scotia this month, I started thinking more about my #MeToo experience from the time I worked in politics.
Basic facts: I worked in politics in the mid-2000s and it started as a dream job. I have a graduate degree in political science and had been politically active in the past, so the opportunity to be IN IT was, initially, exciting. The reality, as is often the case, was quite different.
It took years to understand the toxicity of that world when I was in it. Years to realize I was working with, for, and around some men who were casual and thoughtless in their cruelty, and the long-term effects it had on me and the women I know from that time.
How does this relate to my little romantic comedy novel?
Assuming the #MeToo reckoning would bypass Nova Scotia due to its small size and everyone-knows-someone-somewhere interconnectedness, I took very specific instances of things that happened to me in politics, barely fictionalized them, and put them in my book.
Whelp. Plenty of people who know me already know what happened to me in politics, but I’ve been thinking a lot about the personal and professional grief I’m inviting into my life if I keep this much truth in fiction if it reaches a wider audience. I cynically thought it would never be an issue here because, well, here’s like that.
As the revising continues, I struggle with how much truth I should leave in my fiction. I still have bills to pay. And I already have negative experience with people from that time interfering in my present life. And career. It’s up to me to control what happens from here out, even if some of those stories make for great fiction because, at least until recently, a lot of people would not believe they were real.
It sucks, but here we are.
I’m so glad the #MeToo reckoning has arrived in my corner of the world, and I’m here all day for the women are talking publicly and openly about their experiences. It’s long overdue, but there’s still a long road ahead of us.
For another perspective on what I’m talking about, go read Michelle Hebert Boyd’s recent post about the local political world from her experiences. It’s excellent.