In my last post a group of writers, including myself, revealed what compelled them to write their novels. I mentioned growing up with Carl Ahrens’ story, admiration for his work, etc. I’ve since realized that my real answer boils down to one word. Love.
|Photo by Rick Taylor|
It was love that led me to attend a writer’s conference in Austin, TX several years ago in order to pitch a biography called Knight of the Brush. The subject was a certain Canadian painter. Agents listened kindly to my clumsily delivered spiel, some even invited me to send my proposal, but I sensed most lost interest as soon as I mentioned Carl was also my great-grandfather. Put Bullock at the bottom of the slush pile, I imagined them saying to themselves.
An editor told me big publishers would never buy an artist's biography unless his name was Van Gogh or Picasso--something recognizable. She suggested I approach a small university press in Canada, preferably from Carl's hometown.
|Kim speaking at the KWAG|
The “little something” morphed into a 6,000 word cover story.
Two months later I gave the keynote address for Carl Ahrens Day at the Kitchener Waterloo Art Gallery. It was the first time in seventy years that a collection of Ahrens paintings had been exhibited to the public.
|Carl and Madonna Ahrens circa 1911|
A powerful thing, love.
Powerful enough for me to scrap the biography and tell Carl and Madonna’s story in the way that would bring them to life for everyone else as they always have been for me. The Oak Lovers was born.
Platform may not matter much on a novel’s path to publication, but I will continue to build mine when I can. There’s a story in my blood, and I’m the only one who can tell it.