Seeking Purpose

Welcome to my Second Acts Series!

Today, we have Canadian author Carol Balawyder musing about the two acts of her writing journey.

Here’s Carol!

carolbalawyderI am so grateful to be featured among so many (over 90!) wonderful writers in Joanne Guidoccio’s Second Acts series.

In life one has many second acts but the one which I wish to focus on here is my writing journey.


Five years ago I retired from a successful teaching career with the luck of a pension that allowed me the freedom to write without the financial burden of having a day job. My initial intention was to put my heart and soul into writing crime novels. After all, wasn’t that the purpose for my going back to school to study criminology and later teach Police Tech and Corrections so that I would have credibility as a crime writer?

mourninghasbrokenBut then people around me started dying: Father. Mother. Sister. I was stricken with a deep grief that I only knew how to express through writing. They say that one must go through a year of mourning and so when my dear sister, Diana, died I wrote for a year about my pain and sorrow which became my requiem: Mourning Has Broken.

Parallel to this my heart broke in a different way: Man leaves wife for younger woman. Here I was seeking out another partner to fill a hole that partly got filled by writing Getting To Mr. Right in which I created four female characters and their relationships with their fathers.

With the novel self published, I found I still wasn’t finished with these characters and followed up with novella length epilogues for each of them. So far I’ve written Missi and Suzy’s stories.


I will soon publish Felicity’s story (Not By Design).

That still leaves me Campbell which will likely be the end of this series.

But in this first act there were my crime novels lurking at the back of my mind. I have three manuscripts at different stages of the writing process, one which I hope to publish soon.


Pieces of magic.

I am a woman seeking purpose. At this stage of my writing career I feel the need to use my writing to help bring awareness to causes that are dear to me. I have begun to do this with Not By Design where the main character, Felicity Starr, develops Multiple Sclerosis.

Logically, I should be more interested in cures for cancer, particularly blood cancer such as lymphoma, leukemia and thrombocythemia – all cancers that run like river water in my maternal side of the family’s blood stream.

Before I wrote Not By Design I knew nothing about MS. I knew no one who suffered from the disease. But then again as Felicity discovers:
“The thing about having MS is that no one can tell that I am sick. A bizarre illness where you look fine but you’re not fine.”

In the early stages of writing this novel –still at the stage of trying to discover what my book was about I happened to meet (The Universe works its magic) Irene Grazzini, a young physician from Italy who was doing research at Montreal’s Neurological Institute. Because of her own writing we developed a friendship where during her stay in Montreal we met weekly for walks and talked about writing. On one such walk I said that I wanted my character, Felicity, to be struck with an illness. Because Felicity is an artist I wanted her to have a disease which would force her to give up her art (at least as she knows it) and told Irene that she could develop Parkinson’s.

Irene: How old is she?

Me: Mid-thirties.

Irene: Why don’t you give her MS? It’s more common for her age group. It’s a disease that affects coordination.

magicwandMore magic.

The other day I was at the library thinking about my second act.

As usual, whenever I go to the library, I check out the new books. And there it is. Very Good Lives by J.K. Rowling (in case the name is unfamiliar, think Harry Potter).

Very Good Lives is Rowling’s commencement address delivered to the class of 2008 at Harvard University. Its subject is on the fringe benefits of failure and the importance of imagination.

I imagine Rowling’s words transitioning me from my Act One to my Act Two as a commencement speech is meant to do. I am especially struck by these lines:

“If you choose to use your status and influence to raise your voice on behalf of those who have no voice; if you choose to identify not only with the powerful but with the powerless; if you retain the ability to imagine yourself into the lives of those who do not have your advantages, then it will not only be your proud families who celebrate your existence but thousands and millions of people whose reality you have helped change. We do not need magic to transform our world; we carry all the power we need inside ourselves already: we have the power to imagine better.”

So this is how I imagine my second act.

My warmest thanks to you, Joanne, for inviting me to be a guest on your inspiring blog.

Where to find Carol…

Amazon | Goodreads | Smashwords | Blog

Joanne here!

Carol, Thanks for sharing your back story and hopes/plans for the future. I also enjoyed reading Very Good Lives and like the quote you shared. Best of luck with all your literary endeavors.


33 responses to “Seeking Purpose

  1. This was a great and fascinating example of how you feel you are close to Carol. She speaks to our heart and answers those thoughts. I have been trying to figure out what I may do, since I work presently 8 years at a warehouse. I felt this was so meaningful how you will feature a character who is ftom your original story in her own book. Including her facing MS is a great way to help us to remember to give to research for MS. Also, to help us to focus on people, who are never perfect, allowing us to relate more deeply to a single woman named , “Felicity.” My own youngest daughter is named Felicia snd has lived as a young 13 year old up through her 30th, with JRA and now, rheumatoid arthritis. 🙂 Your book will be a great way to inspire, Carol.
    Thank you so much, Joanne. This was a great post and you are a gracious hostess. 🙂

    • I agree so very much with your saying, Robin, that Joanne is a gracious hostess.
      I hope that your daughter, Felicia, can find inspiration not only in my book but especially in her everyday life. It must not be easy and I wish her courage and love. 🙂

  2. This interview with Carol is very inspiring. Thank you for featuring her in your series here! Carol, I admire how you wrote through difficult circumstances and shared your experiences with writers in “Mourning Has Broken.” Also, it is great how you took Rowling’s words and used them to find purpose in your second act. Sending love ❤

    • Thanks Christy for your very kind words. If you have a chance to read Rowling’s book it’s very inspiring. It’s very short, well it’s a commencement address.It’s really serendipity that I came upon it while thinking how to approach writing this post on Joanne’s second act series. Glad to see you back! ❤

  3. You are a very strong woman, Carol. Being an MS sufferer myself I really appreciate you bringing this to the world in ‘Not By Design’. Best of luck with everything you do, my friend 🙂

    • In the short time I’ve been in contact with those who suffer from MS I’ve learned of their resilience and their optimism that is so admirable. I only hope that my book will do justice to those inflicted by the disease and bring awareness to those still unfamiliar with the pain it causes. Hopefully soon enough research will be able to find a cure for MS.Thank you for sharing and for being here. ❤

  4. A wonderful interview. It’s always so interesting to learn more about Carol in her interviews. I can’t wait to read something new from Carol soon. 🙂

  5. Hi Carol, I loved reading this piece and learning more about your personal story and how that led to the books you’ve been writing. Best of luck on your second act. You deserve the best. And I can’t wait to read your mystery series as well.

  6. Thanks, both; this is fascinating. And it shows how we remake ourselves over time. And how inspiring, Carol, to read how you’ve used your experience and turned it all to good.

  7. So much loss you went through, Carol. How difficult that must have been (and likely still is).

    Interesting to hear more about your background. Best of luck with “Not By Design.” MS is an important condition to spread the word about, and fiction is often a great way to do that.

  8. Reblogged this on Carol Balawyder and commented:
    I’m pleased and honored to be featured on Joanne’s blog. A member of Crime Writers of Canada, Sisters in Crime, and Romance Writers of America, Joanne writes paranormal romance, cozy mysteries, and inspirational literature from her home base of Guelph, Ontario.
    If you haven’t yet been on Joanne’s blog I encourage you to browse through it. You’re sure to be inspired.

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