At long last, I am back writing for this blog. As I start out, I don’t yet know where this post is going, except to catch up on the last four months since I posted here.
Like everyone, the pandemic has changed my world. So many things I held dear, such as getting together with friends over meals, attending a full sanctuary at church, traveling, and attending social gatherings have all ceased. These are what I miss most. Then there is the drying up of creativity in certain arenas. I no longer crochet rugs or mats from old sheets. I’ve read one book since the pandemic came to our area. And as I’ve mentioned, I’ve not been writing for this blog. Today I’m changing at least one of these things.
Much of my creativity has been channeled into my work. The three pastors at our church, my colleague Jane, and I have been working together as a team to find as many ways to connect to people in the congregation as we can. I’m editing a weekly newsletter called “From across the Fence” that keeps attenders up-to-date on news of individuals and families. This is a fun venture. I also help create the weekly bulletin, list of prayer requests, and community news that lists announcements of happenings here in the Shenandoah Valley. I’m so grateful that this position allows me to use my skills and interests in the ways that it does. Without it, I might be floundering a lot more.
Thank goodness for my two writing groups. They keep me engaged in crafting my new book. As is common, the book I started writing isn’t the book I’m ending up writing. As it turns out, I am replacing my first book. I decided to end my contract with my first publisher for Why I Left the Amish. It will go out of print on December 31, 2020. Once I find a publishing channel, I will replace it with the book I’m crafting now. This one is so far titled, If You Promise You Won’t Tell.
My perspective has changed in the twelve years since I finished writing Why I Left the Amish. My sense of what to include in the book and what not to is different, and so is my perspective on my parents and the abuse I endured. When I wrote the first book, I only allowed myself to remember Mem as a nurturing mother, and I saw Datt and Joe as my abusers. I have faced the hard truth that Mem had two sides — a nurturing one, and a harsh and abusive one. It was hard to face the realization that I did not have even one consistent advocate in the family from the time I was five and the punitive side of Mem showed up. Fortunately for me, I had two advocates within the community, and it is possibly because of these two people believing in me that I was able to believe in myself and to face this hard truth.
If You Promise You Won’t Tell is written in chronological order, starting from what I’ve been told about my birth. It also includes my earliest memories of Mem as a nurturing mother before the abuse began. There are only a few stories that overlap with Why I Left the Amish from my childhood years. There are more stories repeated of young adult years, and the chapters about leaving the first time are similar to the first book.
In my next post, I will share the introduction for If You Promise You Won’t Tell.
If you have been wanting to buy a copy of Why I Left the Amish and haven’t, you still have five months to do so. There are several ways to order, which you will find on the purchase page of my website. This includes a signed copy directly from me.
In the same way that I didn’t know how this post was going to end, I’m trying to decide what photo I can include here. I think one of my childhood home is appropriate. This one was taken in June 1981, the day of my sister Susan’s wedding. David was not invited to the wedding. I was under the condition that I wear Amish clothes. David came and picked me up after the wedding ceremony. We were alone at the homestead while everyone else was at the wedding reception. We took lots of photos.
As I end this, I am remembering how thrilling it is to receive responses from you, dear readers. I’m looking forward to hearing from you. Will you write about how the pandemic may have altered your creativity?