September 16, 2021:
What would you have done? Imagine your reaction if at a break during New Year’s services in a synagogue—or during church services or a public lecture or even a show—a stranger came over to you and said you remind her of the medieval heroine in the book she’s currently writing. Would you cautiously back away and search for the nearest exit? Smile politely and try to put space between you and this weird person? Pretend you don’t speak English and respond in a made-up language? Look around for a security guard?
Fortunately for me, the model of Rebecca, my Medieval Heroine—hence to be known as MH—smiled and politely offered to hear more. And then she was even polite enough to want to hear about my work in progress and to express interest in it. Since this author—like most—was thrilled at the chance to talk about her story, the conversation sparkled. And so, for the first time in a while, did I.
This meeting occurred at a time of discouragement in the evolution of the Rebecca novel. It can be so hard to “keep the faith” and keep going during the inevitable difficult times that most writers encounter.
As we chatted, I learned about MH. She turned out to be an Israeli woman of Moroccan ancestry. This accords very well with the probable ancestry of Rebecca, whose family was most likely Sephardic, i.e., based in Spain (in contrast with Ashkenazi, or Northern European based). And then, for the crème de la crème of the meeting, MH works in the healing arts—just like the original Rebecca! When I heard this, I knew I had to go on digging deeper to get my story out. Meeting MH provided encouragement when it was especially needed.
MH has been kind enough to provide a photo (shown here). As the saying goes, this lovely photo is worth one thousand (or more) of my words to convey the incarnated image of Rebecca I’d been struggling to articulate.
So, first of all, I’d like to use this post to thank MH (you know who you are), who has become a good friend and source of continuing encouragement in addition to inspiration. And then I’d like to think this episode can serve as a message to “regular” people who are foolhardy enough to interact with writers. We need encouragement! So please be kind to your local and not-local writers! We will be ever so appreciative!
Postscript: You, gentle reader, might notice that the image of Rebecca on my cover is quite different than that of MH. Well, having gotten to know MH, she is a shining example of a contemporary woman. Rebecca, on the other hand, was a medieval woman. To keep the eras straight, I needed to have a portrait other than MH’s on the cover.