…and a few years ago I started trying. They were mostly short stories, some poetry, an few attempts at longer works, mostly unfinished. I’ve been thinking about dusting off one of my more complete attempts and trying to make it into a polished novel. Can I do it?
I think I’ve never wanted to commit to the work a really good novel would take, but now I’m seriously thinking about it. Going through my warehouse of ideas and starts, I found two versions of this story. Apparently I had started writing in first person, but at some point decided to change to a 3rd person telling. Now I wonder why. I like the crusty old lady in this version. I feel the writing bug’s bite.
“It’s not the life God gives you that’s important,” says the handmade sampler that hangs on the wall. “It’s how you live it that matters.”
Horseshit. The life you get makes all the difference, and God has a nasty sense of humor.
Eighty-seven years ago He started me out struggling; no one thought I’d survive the night. I’ve struggled every day since. It has been a long and troublesome life; I have fought God for every day He gave me. And if there’s anything I’ve learned, one constant throughout, it’s this: the only thing sure about life is dying. The rest is left to God and chance.
My life has never been my own. I belonged first to my father and then my husband, was victim to God’s fancies, inherited the prejudices of my people and was blinded by their narrow ways. Now I see that my children have learned nothing from it, that they too have fallen victim to the whims of the Almighty and the cruelties of their ancestors. Of the children God saw fit to give me, only two remain. Both are deformed – one in body, the other in spirit. Both have disappointed and abandoned me. Neither have become what they should.
Now my ordeal is nearly ended; I lie helpless in this bed that is not my own, my body ravaged by the disease that consumes me, and the certainty of death is all that remains.
There is one more thing to do before God takes me. It is my dying wish to put to paper a telling of my days. I wish those who follow me to know the wretchedness that was my life: My parents gave me away, my husband enslaved me, my children dishonored me, God toyed with me… perhaps my grandchildren will do better.
I have been many people in my lifetime: an innocent child and loving daughter, a God-fearing Christian and dutiful wife, a joy-filled mother and grief-stricken parent, and now at last a miserable old woman. But as I lie on my deathbed in this darkened room, as I close my eyes and think on the past, the person I see first is the bride-child, a tender young girl barely thirteen years old who stood before God in an act of faith and pledged her life to a man who did not deserve her. This is where I start my story…