It is finished! Yes, over 12 months since I outlined in my last post the plan to get Ethel North’s letters to my grandmother into a book called My Dear Elsie, I have finally done it. I crossed the finishing line just before Christmas and on Christmas Day itself, I sent the manuscript to my “first responders” as I’m calling them. They are three of my closest friends, two of whom are also writers and I am now waiting both eagerly and nervously for their feedback on the book before I start on the next stage which is getting it self-published.
I wrote that last post in November 2019 and clearly the world is a very, very different place since then. I could not possibly have imagined, when I was saying that I hoped to get the book ready for publication in 2020, that the year would be totally dominated by the global pandemic which is the coronavirus. It has certainly been an extremely challenging and incredibly difficult time for all of us, although my “silver lining” has been that it has made me focus almost entirely on the book as there has been little else to do, especially as my home city of Leicester has been locked down in some form or other since the end of March.
Of course, coronavirus is by no means the only global pandemic we have experienced in recent history, although the only one in our lifetimes. The last one occurred in 1918, the year before Ethel started working for Lady Burghclere, with the Spanish Influenza outbreak which spread across the world and resulted in over 50 million deaths worldwide. Fortunately, as I have said in the postscript to My Dear Elsie, neither Ethel, my grandmother nor Lady Burghclere were among those fatalities, otherwise there would never have been a book to write in the first place.
I came across an article in The Guardian newspaper recently by an epidemiologist who said that once a global pandemic has ended, history shows us that people often seek out greater social interaction with others. After the 1918 pandemic, this led to the decade of history known as the “roaring 20s” so it will be interesting to see what happens after the current pandemic ends. Certainly it feels at the moment that nothing will ever be the same again.
If you are interested in finding out more about the influenza pandemic and its similarities and dissimilarities to the current pandemic, this article (also from The Guardian) might be of use. I was particularly fascinated by the references to mask-wearing, school closures and cancelling Christmas!
Anyway, I will definitely try and keep you posted on my progress with the book. I feel very strongly that for all sorts of reasons it needs to be finished, published and ready for marketing by the end of 2021 if not before, so here goes!
Stay well and safe.