My husband was forced to retire unexpectedly in June due to health issues. For the next four months we lived a semi-nomadic life, traveling in our trailer around our beautiful Province of British Columbia.
For both of us, it was an immense adjustment. Hence, our wandering. My husband felt at a loss and, especially never having been ill in his life, had difficulties accepting limitations.
For me, I’ve been disabled for 9 years and quite used to having the house to myself and my gorgeous assistant, my Collie, Abi. I treasured that solitude to follow my passion for writing and singing. Now I had someone around constantly.
There is a purpose to this little saga. During our travels, I haunted used book stores in towns every chance I had (my husband isn’t one of those types who seek out a “husband chair” and wait), seeking research materials for 18th and 19th Century England.
However, something totally different lept off the shelf. The Classic Slave Narratives as edited by Henry Louis Gates, Jr. (1987). Previously published in a Mentor edition, Penguin republished it as a Signet Classic in January, 2002.
When I decided to face my inhibitions regarding my abilities and enter America’s Next Author competition, I instantly went to look for this book. Of the 4 selections, “Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl” seemed like it would have nuggets I could build on for a short story.
This section is a few hundred pages long. As I read deeper into “Incidents”, I became emotionally entangled. I still kept searching for that one incident for my short story. Then it hit me just a few minutes ago. The life of this courageous, determined and self-principled woman deserves so much more than a short story. Her struggles merit a novel.
And so she shall be the focus of a novel. Even if my attempt to relate her life is a poor one, I hope enough readers will be kind enough to spend time with her so she doesn’t vanish into a past which, to this day, haunts.
Even though I’m late into the game for America’s Next Author competition, I’m determined I will enter if nothing else for the experience. So, now I go to find a piece of paper and brainstorm like a madwoman.
PS My husband and I are still talking, so it’s all good!