Fiction: Miss Haversham am I

February 2016 Blog Challenge: Blog 26 of 29

As a child I was happy to create stories and loved the escapism that they offered, projecting my imagination into the past and the future… 

As an adult, I have now returned to the fiction form and have embarked on writing my first novel (of a trilogy). It’s a blend of semi auto-biographical and fantastical elements, which feels somewhat like making a giant patch work quilt of my life: There are some favourite scraps of my own old clothes, which I am adding to, embellishing and turning into a brand new pattern…

Part of my blog challenge this month is to create content for this first fiction book.  Each excerpt, which stands alone on this blog – will eventually be woven into the larger fabric of my completed book.

Miss Haversham am I

Haver

I spend a lot of time alone with books and it seems to me that there is a particular literary convention, where the author’s stance is to cut time into squares and rearrange it, like a giant patch work quilt, creating new patterns and meanings out of bits of posh cloth or jumble sale scraps, into something more clever, poignant and entertaining than the straight walk of real time and therefore real life. The reader does not hold hands with one character, but rather they watch a number of them, from afar, jumping about with them through time; shifting back and forth, switching to the viewing of various characters walking separately along differing paths, then at some points colluding or colliding, to be woven, brokenly back into a stitched cloth. Yet whilst I am self-consciously creating this body of work, setting down my memories and the landscape of sight and emotion, I refuse to assail my reading senses with varied voices and points of view, for this is my story, and mine alone and so it must follow a more linear track, halted only by the gentle interruptions of my latent, agèd insights. And since this is autobiography rather than fiction, I shall start with childhood and follow a recognisable, if somewhat undulating path to my current elderly self.

If these words long lingered over are ever read by others, then of course, they may perceive a fiction or indeed a madness in my sometimes bland and sometimes fantastical life stories. I cannot attest to being entirely sane, but have always believed that sanity is a point of convention, rather than actuality and so, whatever another mind may make of my maunderings, will be an opinion based on their own bias, rather than what is and what is, now being created by me, out of memory or what was, now of necessity becomes my own fictionalised facts, shaped by my slanting recollections of the past.

I love old fashioned, straight forward memoirs and have a more unswerving sensibility of starting at the beginning and ending at (the finale of) a full stop in time. I love the lore of Dickens, who took different narrative paths throughout his writing life, yet usually starting with A and ending with Z, and developed his style throughout his writing time; but here I am, nearing the end of my own time and only just now recording my memories before they recede for ever, so I just need to get them out of my head and down onto paper.

Having said all that, here I am, beginning at the end, setting the scene in my current soft seat, determined that it will not be follow the form of one of my favourite Dickensian characters, that of old Miss Haversham: a woman betrayed and hurt in the long ago past and now stuck on a throne, manipulating those around her for entertainment and revenge, which ultimately and literally consumes her. For rather than making a memoir of Haversham hate, I want this to be a journal of light, one which sets down and makes sense of all that has led to me now, in this strange, solitary chair of mine.

Light is important, since its’ warmth chases the hounds of hate away. I realise this now, with the hindsight of eons, but of course I have spent so much time alone in the darkness. As I mellow with age, I go about setting this sensory story down, for there are now many more days when the blindness of my heavy headaches lift and I can release all the trapped thoughts from my brain, only to bind them tightly back into words stuck instead to the lambent page of a computer’s microchip memory.

Like Miss Haversham, I still have an old wedding dress, but instead of wearing it to drear threads, I am saving it, in a store room somewhere, folded away in its’ own special box, still to wear again or to pass on to someone else in this family tree of infinity. Despite its’ age, I have always believed that its’ encroaching yellowness will wash out and that its’ classic beauty will see the light of dancing day again. I just don’t know when that will be, I just trust that it will be.

One day, that dress and these ancient written words of mine may be for other eyes, but for now, they are most definitely only for me. For in my old age, more and more, my memory often fails me, so when scenes return to mind, I seize them and seek to capture them for reflection or for (self) torture, depending on my whim or the fragile shifting state of my psyche. I realise now that I can choose how these scenes of past life lived can return to either illuminate my remaining days or to fog them up with wrinkled grief and regret.

PS: “It’s beautiful …  I have always said you have a ‘way with words’ and you do indeed have the wonderful gift of being able to write fictional prose. So pleased you are sharing this with the world .” ~ Lucie Bradbury

This is just one from the many hundreds of comments I had when I did my first blog challenge 4 years ago.  The post above is a fiction and yet I also write about my own experiences.  In fact a collection of my ‘Peachey Letters’ have been gathered together in to a beautiful book, exploring all the facets of my ‘real’ life in all its’ badness, banality and beauty. This is love seen in every aspect of the life that I live.  In it you will find the dark and the light of love, in a way that will make you think, entertain you and let you know that you are not alone in life, whatever it holds for you… It is of course the perfect Valentine gift. You can buy ‘Peachey Letters – Love Letters to Life’ by Sandra Peachey, from book websites anywhere in the world, including on Amazon (in both Paperback and Kindle)

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