paths not taken

Lena’s story, a young woman who finds herself in the diggings of the gold rush towns, came to it’s natural conclusion.  And as all good westerns must end, she rode into the sunset.

What was next?  For me? for Lena?  Do I follow her to Sacramento or San Francisco? Do I back track to her father and sister who have packed up and are traveling West to join their errant relative?

This new story did intrigue me.  I now knew so much about the times and the places.  I could easily imagine their adventures across uncharted America.  The book “The World Rushed In” by J.S. Holliday is a nearly complete document of letters from one New York 49er to his wife at home.  This is the tale of excitement, hardship, successes, disappointments told by a gentle observant, good man.  Descriptions and characters bring the man’s experiences to life as fully as fiction can.  In this book I could feel the entire epic dimension of this adventure as in no other book I read.

I thought to use that book as a guide as Lena’s father and sister worked their way across the country.  Perhaps I will one day complete their journey through Kansas (“Pioneer Women”, ed. Stratton is a compendium of letters and diary entries that detail the extreme isolation and hardship of homesteading).  Or I will follow them to Arizona; to Josie Marcus’ Tombstone or like Harriet Rochlin’s novel “The First Lady of Dos Cachuates” what pioneer Jews found and did in the European settling of the Southwest.

The plan now was to find an agent and a publisher.  I wanted Lena’s story out in the world.  I wanted to add to the library that gives young women permission to follow the sound of their own voices.



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