Many people ask this question, “What is it about?” The first answer, Quirni is about Erica, about her family ties, her excellence, her journey into a new life as an ex-convict on the run, basically. It’s about her healing process, her development as a person, and her discovery of her inner fears and broken mind as she becomes a whole person. That would be Erica Kinsley’s answer to “What is it about?”
For me, the book is about the journey I had with my mom, about her illness with Myasthenia Gravis, and about the ways we had to struggle to get through it. Erica’s journey reminds me of the symptoms of it as my mother wrote becoming sicker with each passing year. She weakened and struggled like Erica did when she came to Quirni, and every time I read Erica getting shot, it reminds me of my mother getting worse. Things didn’t happen with an intent to make Erica like my mother, but conflicts reflect one another.
I find that in my own writing. I focus on weakness when I feel sick or on the frailty of relationships when those experiences infuse my life. I think, in large part, we all reveal personal struggles in our writing. I have questioned whether or not that’s okay. Is it all right to show the world our struggle, to foist it upon others?
I suppose it’s unavoidable. We write what we think about, and if we’re thinking about something, it’s a part of our story. It’s cause and effect. If a thing angers us, we write angry. If it makes us feel loved, we write feeling loved. These are feelings we all have and, whether it is through writing or real life, it is worthwhile.
Writers get in trouble when they just write about themselves. Self-insertion is shunned in a story, so what’s the difference between that and stories reflecting life? For me, it’s a question of intent. Is it a purposeful insertion of a character which is acting as the super-ego of the writer or the ideal self. If it is more than happenstance that the character reflects the emotions the writer feels then it is not as much fun to read.
As we grow and develop as writers, we learn to diverge from writing ourselves. We get away from asking “What would I do if this happened to me?” and head towards “What would a character with these attributes think? How would they act if that’s what they think or if that is what they must face?” Skillful writers create new characters or situations that reflect reality but don’t repeat it.
To do that, writers must write what they understand and what they are passionate about. Therefore, some aspect of them will be in the work, but it doesn’t need to define the work. Sickness, anxiety, and worry are a part of life but can be expressed in many ways.
So in the end, Quirni is about struggle. Even though it reflects real life it is about a young woman not a mother. It is a struggle between a young woman and herself, between a woman and family, and between her and a society she doesn’t understand. It’s a long story filled with the passions that were driving us during a difficult time in our lives. It is an emotional ride that doesn’t end in the expected places, because it isn’t real life just real feelings.