Hearts Through History Romance Writers

Who Are (Were) You?

by | October 14, 2011 | 1 comment

If you’ve seen the movie Patton staring George C. Scott, you might remember the part where Patton goes out to visit the ruins of Carthage in North Africa. And he tells his companions about how the Romans destroyed Carthage, as says that he, Patton was one of the Carthaginians talking about his past lives.


This movie and a discussion of past lives came up in the instructor’s dining room between a bunch of us history teacher when I was teaching (college level). The conversation was you had to assume that you had past lives, so each of us had to identify our past lives, and since we were all history teachers we all had eras of history to which we felt closest.

So where do I feel a connection? Much to my surprise when this conversation came up, instead of saying Elizabethan England (my master’s is Tudor and Stuart England), there were other time periods.


Letting my imagination run with the idea of past lives, I came up with several past lives, as it were. I’ve marched with

Alexander the Great (probably as a camp follower), stood in a line of men with a muzzle loading rifle and fired at the enemy. And since I feel very close to WWII, I decided I was a WASP who died in the war, as I was born (in this life?) after the war.


Just like when I started to write, instead of Medievals, I’m writing in the Americas. My first book, KENTUCKY GREEN, takes place in frontier territory in 1794. I feel drawn to the frontier. When I visited Yorktown Victory center many years ago, they have a recreation of a colonial/frontier farm. Walked into that log cabin, and felt at home. I could have lived there in the 1700s.











This is a really great exercise for writers, to image, or feel the past in some way. So are you writing in the era that you feel closest to? Have you visited historical sites and ‘felt’ a connection? Or maybe didn’t feel a connection much to your surprise? Our local chapter had a workshop about past lives once, and everyone had a lot of fun with the idea. I would have never thought of this as a tool to use with writing without that conversation in the teacher’s dining room.

Do you think imagining past lives might be of help with writing historical?

1 Comment

  1. Lily Dewaruile

    I spent most of my teenage years imagining I was someone else, Terry. And, because I have had the opportunity to travel since those years, I can answer in the affirmative about feeling a connection. The moment I stepped onto Welsh soil 35 years ago, I knew I’d found someplace special to me.
    I always put myself into the lives of others to write – to create their lives as effectively as I am able. Though that is sometimes an uncomfortable position, I think it makes for an honest attempt to connect with humanity in all its glories and degenerations. Thought-provoking post, Terry, thank you.



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