This week I had one of my very good friends and my favorite pre-reader for my novels pose a question in one of her emails to me. She talked about the treasures from her rich rural Quebec past, both physical and storied, which are in danger of being lost to younger generations. She said, “first, in another generation hardly anyone will be able to read them [the old documents she has], and secondly, with all of us having gone to electronic writing, the personality coming off the page from the handwriting itself [will be] lost.” Now, Millie is the only child on both sides of her family so this problem is especially deep-seated as only her descendants might be interested in said documents and treasures.
This whole line of thinking struck a chord with me as an historical novelist who has found in the Gutenberg Press initiative amazing first-person stories and histories which a generation ago, if they even survived, would have been moldering in some climate-controlled library only accessible to a few. I love the online places where the whole world can obtain access to the very words and phrases of those who wrote hundreds of years ago.
What I hadn’t thought about was Millie’s sense that the primary papers exude the characteristics of their writers who sat painstakingly penning with stiff quills and straight pens–I learned to write with one of those!–and ink wells prone to tipping, and somehow transferring their very personae onto the page. But, of course, it’s true. We can see the writers’ proficiency in spelling, their neatness, and their turn of phrase and through these things learn they may have been neat or not, word people or not. We can even gain glimpses of their innermost thoughts not only by the words they choose but also by the thickness of the strokes as they transfer pondering thought to page. Their impatience may show in scribbled thin scratches which barely connect. These do not show in typed manuscripts.
So, yes, Millie’s thoughts are valid. She even suggested someone might do a paper on this and wondered if someone had. Don’t you just love having thinking friends like this?
Last week I struggled to overcome the ravages of Shingles which attacked me with a vengeance and even though I got the all-hallowed shot within the prescribed time this laid me out. In between doing anything and everything I could to escape the stabbing nerves in my back and the tell-tale red rash around my middle I mentally kicked myself for not getting the inoculation when I had the chance. My husband went right out and got it after watching me for a day or two! So, if you haven’t had the shot, investigate. Hindsight is absolutely 20-20!
I did get back into my writing as that allowed me to escape the pain and go into John’s world where he struggles in book three of the Loyalist trilogy. The rewrites should be fun on that one. Here’s to keeping that rough draft percolating, no matter what!
And dust out those old mementos in your own family. You may find treasures to preserve for posterity outside your computer versions.
For All Lovers of Historical Fiction!
The Loyalist’s Luck, Book Two in The Loyalist Trilogy!
John and Lucy escape the Revolutionary War to the unsettled British territory across the Niagara River with almost nothing. In the untamed wilderness they must fight to survive, he, off on a secret mission for Colonel Butler and she, left behind with their young son and pregnant once again. In the camp full of distrust, hunger, and poverty, word has seeped out that John has gone over to the American side and only two people will associate with Lucy–her friend, Nellie, who delights in telling her all the current gossip, and Sergeant Crawford, who refuses to set the record straight and clear John’s name. To make matters worse, the sergeant has made improper advances toward Lucy. With John’s reputation besmirched, she must walk a thin line depending as she does on the British army, and Sergeant Crawford, for her family’s very survival.
The Loyalist’s Wife, Book One in The Loyalist Trilogy!
by Elaine Cougler, winner of the WCDR 2014 Pay It Forward Scholarship
Short-listed for Inspire! Toronto International Book Fair’s Canada Self-Published Book Awards
When American colonists resort to war against Britain and her colonial attitudes, a young couple caught in the crossfire must find a way to survive. Pioneers in the wilds of New York State, John and Lucy face a bitter separation and the fear of losing everything, even their lives, when he joins Butler’s Rangers to fight for the King and leaves her to care for their isolated farm. As the war in the Americas ramps up, ruffians roam the colonies looking to snap up Loyalist land. Alone, pregnant, and fearing John is dead, Lucy must fight with every weapon she has.
With vivid scenes of desperation, heroism, and personal angst, Elaine Cougler takes us back to the beginnings of one great country and the planting of Loyalist seeds for another. The Loyalist’s Wife transcends the fighting between nations to show us the individual cost of such battles.