The Twelve Years of Understanding Ursula

Posted on January 2, 2014 at 5:28 pm by corinne 14 Comments

On one of our recent bitterly cold winter days, I was listening to Christmas carols and reminiscing about my trilogy. My mind took me back to December 25, 2000, sitting in our family room opening gifts. When my daughter presented me with four squares of corkboard and then insisted on helping me hang them on the wall of my soon-to-be office, I knew the time was approaching for me to begin telling my story.

I had been stalling for far too long. From that blustery November day in 1997 when my sister’s telephone call had provided the final remaining piece of the puzzle, the die had been cast. In May 2001, I travelled to the original homestead and received the affirmation I’d been seeking; yet I had not written a single word, choosing instead to continue with my research.

The Internet was an invaluable tool; but since books have always been my medium, I became a frequent visitor to the St. Albert Public Library. To regain my sense of the Saskatchewan prairie, and of rural life, I purchased Sharon Butala’s The Perfection of the Morning and Wild Stone Heart. I fortuitously discovered and devoured the last print copy of Mary Hiemstra’s Gully Farm, a story of homesteading on the Canadian prairies.

Still, nursing was my major at university, not English. I had never taken a writing class or course in my life. What did I know about writing a novel? I do not share a familial history similar to Alice Munro’s, who said, “I was lucky in that every generation of our family for the past three hundred years seemed to produce somebody who went in for writing.” Then, a dear friend came to my rescue, by giving me Bird by Bird by Anne Lamott, an author who teaches advanced writing in California.

Without a table of contents, a cast of characters, or an identifiable plot, on a spring day in 2002 I sat down at my computer, and the Werner family saga was born. During those early years when I maintained the illusion I was writing one book, I continued to work full-time on the south side of Edmonton. In short order, I became like Jessica Fletcher in the dated TV series Murder She Wrote, always scurrying about, desperate for a chance to write.

By the time I retired to deal with breast cancer, and then to assist with my grandson’s care, I had come to realize that my characters were compelling me on a long journey, which nine years later, on March 3, 2011, would become a trilogy. Then, when a traditional publishing house suggested that it would require two to three years to bring my first book to print, Roadie Books flourished with the challenge and launched Arriving: 1909-1919 within seven months of the series’ completion.

In rapid succession, Thriving: 1920-1939 was published in 2012, and Choosing: 1940-1989 in 2013. Understanding Ursula was researched, written, and published 12 years after the trilogy had begun.

As much as I have enjoyed the creative process of writing, it is you, all of my new personal connections—friends, readers, fans—who are my joy and wonder in being an author


14 Comments on "The Twelve Years of Understanding Ursula"

  1. Bev Sochatsky · January 2, 2014 at 5:49 pm · Reply

    Thank you for documenting the steps in your journey – fascinating how life presents abundantly all that we can ask or imagine. What a gift that you were open to receive it all. Congratulations my friend. Looking forward to what’s yet to unfold.
    Happy New Year,

    • corinne · January 6, 2014 at 8:30 pm · Reply

      Happy New Year Bev! And thank you for taking this journey with me.

  2. A.(Red) Lauttamus · January 2, 2014 at 11:11 pm · Reply

    Happy New Year to you and yours, When is the movie going into production. Wishing you the best in future works. Take Care

    PS: Yes, I did enjoy all the books.

    • corinne · January 6, 2014 at 8:29 pm · Reply

      So happy that you enjoyed the books! Wouldn’t that be wonderful… a movie. I will be mulling that one over!

  3. Dorothy · January 3, 2014 at 3:09 am · Reply

    Thank you for sharing the process you went through to complete your Ursula trilogy. I suspect all writers have their own ways and means to the book stores.

    See you in Medicine Hat.


    • corinne · January 6, 2014 at 8:29 pm · Reply

      Thank you Dorothy – I suspect writers’ processes are as different as their stories. Happy New Year!

  4. Brenda · January 3, 2014 at 4:58 am · Reply

    I have just finished “Arriving” and have started “Thriving”. I very much enjoy the story and style of writing and look forward to reading the complete trilogy. I am hoping that you will be writing more stories. Thank you Corinne!

    • corinne · January 6, 2014 at 8:28 pm · Reply

      Brenda –
      I hope you enjoy all of them as much as Arriving. I am indeed working away on new material. Stay tuned!

  5. Herb Magnusson · January 6, 2014 at 5:14 pm · Reply

    You make the writing of a book sound so easy. But, I imagine that when a good story is in a persons mind that it will find a way onto paper! Thanks!

    • corinne · January 6, 2014 at 8:27 pm · Reply

      Herb –
      Thank you for your praise. I love hearing from you!

  6. Rosemarie Thompson · January 11, 2014 at 1:59 am · Reply

    I loved every book in the trilogy.
    I look forward to your next book.
    Rosemarie Thompson
    Melville, SK
    Kindersley, SK
    St. Albert, AB

    • corinne · January 17, 2014 at 4:43 pm · Reply

      Hi Rosemarie,
      I’m always delighted to hear from my readers, and I’m so glad you have enjoyed my Understanding Ursula trilogy. As soon as I can complete my current book, you’ll be one of the first to know.

  7. Hilde Kirrmaier · February 3, 2014 at 10:48 pm · Reply

    Corinne, may I ask you what your sister’s telephone call in 1997 was all about?

    And I would like to tell you that you inspired me to read Mary Hiemstra’s “Gully Farm”;
    I remember that we did cross Gully Creek east of Loydminster on our way back from Melville/Neudorf last fall.
    I enjoyed her account of her pioneer life very much, seeing it through her six-year-old eyes was a treat!

    You also inspired me to read Sharon Butala’s “Wild Stone Heart”. Sharon is not a stranger to me, I have read a number of her books.
    Her deep connection to the land is awesome .

    I wish you all the best with your new endeavour “Lords and Lepers”, am eagerly looking forward to it.

    Greetings from beautiful Kimberley,
    Hilde Kirrmaier

    • corinne · February 12, 2014 at 1:10 pm · Reply

      Hi Hilde,

      How nice to hear from you. How is the weather in Kimberley? I am returning to your beautiful part of the world from May 6 to 20 this spring. I shall call Erin at Lotus Books in Cranbrook about a Saturday signing, and perhaps I’ll see you.

      I’m so glad that I have inspired you to read some of my research books; have you read Sharon Butala’s The Perfection of the Morning ?

      And, now to your question; my sister’s telephone call in 1997 provided me with the final piece of the puzzle I had struggled with for most of my life. Her conversation confirmed for me that Ursula did have a secret, and specifically what the secret was!

      Until we meet again…

      – Corinne

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