Long time no hear – been neglecting my website and cyber-friends and yes, I feel bad about it. It’s been a weird year, 2011, I mean. What with me doing work for the Dept of Social Development and getting some much-needed bucks in. So much so, that the bank phoned me the other day to say the balance in my current account is too high and I should transfer the money to a savings account. The main reason for that state affairs is that I intended to spend some on it on my mother’s house but she won’t let me – so I’m just growing richer while she digs in her heels.
It has been great to use my academic faculties again and to be involved in some real research. But I’ve also been productive in the novel arena. My first novel “You Can’t Make Love to a Mountain” was sent to 6 publishers in June last year. Got three rejections and am still waiting for the others to get back to me. Getting impatient, as I now know how to publish a book myself and will be doing that if the other three give negative responses.
I started my second novel (Forty Days in France) and although I had every intention of writing fiction, my own story kept on intruding – something I struggle with everyday. It’s about a woman who hits the glass ceiling and goes on holiday to France with her mother . . . sound familiar? On the other hand, the plot has grown organically. What was a small incident in reality has turned out to be a major theme of the novel. We visited the home to George Sand on the way to the Chateau La Cruezette (where my mother fell and broke her leg and set in motion events that resulted in a u-turn in my life). Now, George Sand, prolific novelist of the 1800’s has become a character in the story. She becomes like a ghost that follows Megan, the main protagonist. I’m also including a strong romantic element – ah, how fiction can be so much more of a pleasurable experience than real life!!!
In November I submitted the first forty pages to an editor. And having two weeks on my hands, I decided to quickly finish the family history I’d started five years earlier. Needless to say, two weeks was not enough and even after receiving feedback from the editor, I decided to carry on with the family history and make Christmas my deadline. Deadlines are great things. They focus the mind and you inevitably end up hating them. I worked like a maniac but still had not finished by Christmas Eve. Spent two lovely days in Stanford where my cousin has a house after Christmas and then got back to work. I’m glad to say I have actually finished it. Found a local printer, designed my own cover and voila I have a book!!! It’s called “The German Settlers to the Eastern Cape and the ancestors of R.B. Ziehl”. I’ll be giving a talk at the Family History Society meeting on the 18th February and hoping to sell some copies then. It’s been a great experience and I discovered things about myself and my heritage I did not know (e.g. I’m descended from at least two of the original 1820 settlers, Barnes and Dugmore and possibly Bagshaw). I was also able to trace my roots back to Prussia in 1850’s, to 1760 in England (with actual blood links) and less securely back to 1066!!! (Mitfords in Northumberland). Writing this book has been tough, yet rewarding and has altered my (self) identity.
All for now. But I’m determined to do this more regularly this year. So, à bientôt!