I never intended to write four novels about Norah McCabe (see my web site: http://www.cynthianeale.com for more information). Three historical novels about her life has taken a good deal out of my life. As a writer, I don’t study the marketplace to decipher what genre is most popular, nor have I counted the cost beforehand. If I had done so, I probably wouldn’t have stayed the course with years of research, writing, and rejection. Two publishers, three novels, and one publisher who closed her business after my third novel had just been launched. I like to write! I record nature sightings in a nature journal. I’ve written screenplays, short stories, poems, and essays. But when ideas for stories of the past come to me in dreams, epiphanies, while dancing, reading, walking, and talking, my spirit balloons with vigor and excitement, sometimes so much that I feel as if my human body can’t contain it all. And then there are affirming incidents that border on the paranormal, such as waking up with a kernel of corn in my bed after falling asleep reading about the Native American belief of the Three Sisters (corn, bean, and squash). I don’t share these experiences with everyone, but because I am a success of sorts…no, I won’t say of sorts (the journey itself with dreams and words has been a success even if I haven’t won awards and sold millions), I want to give a big dollop of hope to others who are deciding to jump into a deep place, a hearty dream, and a new path without counting the cost. I’m so damn impractical and idealistic! I want my soul to be a candle that burns away the veil so that the glorious duties of light are mine. I want my written words to do for the heart what the sun does to a field. These ideas/words are paraphrased from St. John of the Cross while he was imprisoned for his beliefs and living in a small cell in his own excrement. Who am I to complain? Count the cost? I don’t dare.
One day, I want to organize a foundation called Hunger No More that will address issues of hunger, poverty, and women’s rights, using my books as the foundation for hope. And dare I say that I dream of a film that will be made titled, The Irish Dresser, based on Norah McCabe’s story? An immigration story, a story of hope, and a story of the triumph of spirit. Yes, there have been some movie makers interested, but you know how these things go. I’m not writing in a genre that is popular. But then again, maybe I am, but it’s under the guise of historical fiction. It’s not the horror or fantasy genre that nearly every writer I meet is now writing. But then again, it has horror elements that are vivid and real, i.e. skeletons with little flesh on them walking the earth and fantasy elements that are recorded in history, i.e. so many fish jumping out of the ocean and into a ship of dying immigrants that they are relieved of hunger! Who the hell needs to make up horror and fantasy! But I also need real light in these stories, too, and not just the excrement in the dark cells of this world. Like St. John of the Cross had, like Metchild of Magdeburg, like Gabriela Mistral, and on and on with many who have gone before us and have shown us the way if we’d only listen to them.
So now I’m researching and writing another book about Norah McCabe. My working title is, An Irish Milliner, and again, I’m feeling the out of body moments of inspiration, as well as the feeling of meandering through the stinking sludge of history to find precious truths. I also have the constant companion of fear who helps burn away the veil because I am required to learn about myself in the process of creating other lives. And perhaps in learning, I will burn away the veil and live out some duties of light.
From The Irony of American History by Reinhold Niebuhr
Nothing that is worth doing can be achieved in our lifetime;
therefore, we must be saved by hope.
Nothing which is true or beautiful or good makes complete sense
in any immediate context of history;
therefore, we must be saved by faith.
Nothing we do, however virtuous, can be accomplished alone;
therefore we are saved by love.