Fear and Trembling in NebraskaThe first time someone asked me if I did public speaking as a writer, I was shocked. Of course not. I’m a historical fiction author. I hide in the library and study dead people. And then I play—alone—with imaginary friends to write a story based on the people I’ve “met”—alone—at the library. Or the museum. Or the historical society archives.
Many writers—perhaps most of the writers I know—are actually introverts. Oh, they write and lecture and teach, but they get their energy from being alone. Since writers spend a lot of time alone, that’s probably a good thing, but it also fools a lot of people about who we really all when no one is watching. Happy to be alone. Not just at peace with silence but often energized by it.
This next Tuesday evening, I’m taking my “show on the road” so to speak and giving my Calico Trails presentation at the Falls City, Nebraska, Library and Arts Center. This is one of my favorite talks, because it includes LOTS of quilts and hence, less of me in the spotlight. I get to share what pioneer women’s lives were like in their own words, sharing some of the things I’ve read in their diaries and reminiscences over the years, and once again I’ll get to celebrate the women who have encouraged me, all the way from the 19th century.
I once had a friend who said that if it had been up to her to settle the American West, we’d all still be in Boston drinking tea. The more I learn about the women of the 19th century West, the more I am inclined to agree with her. I’m a hardy soul, but I have my limits … and I think life in a sod house on a rainy day with a sick baby would have reached it. Except, of course, for God’s grace, which enabled those women, just as it enables me today. And that’s what I love about learning about the women of the past. They encourage me. They give me perspective. They remind me that, as poet Roy Lessin wrote, “The God who helped you in the past, is the one who’s faithful still.”
If you can join me in Falls City, Nebraska, please do! Falls City Library & Arts Center, 1400 Stone Street, Falls City, Nebraska. Supper at 5:30 (call 402/245-2913 to make a reservation) or come to the library at 7:00 p.m. for the free presentation. I’d love to meet you and introduce you to a few of the real women who continue to inspire my imaginary friends.
If you love reading about the real women of the past, try the Covered Wagon Women collection of actual Oregon Trail Diaries. Or No Time on My Hands, Grace Snyder’s memoir. Or something by historians Lillian Schlissel or Joanna Stratton. If you’re like me, you’ll be newly grateful for your dishwasher, your doctor, your refrigerator, your furnace, your spider spray, and light bulbs. I’m really thankful for light bulbs. And indoor plumbing. And … those women who endured.