When she was a girl, back in the late 1800s, women wore long dresses but little girls didn’t. And having her first long dress was a proud milestone on her journey to adulthood.
Her story is a cherished memory. I can still remember how she looked as she told it, can see the brilliance of her blue eyes, the smile crinkles at their corners, and can hear her chuckles.
I always wanted to tell that story, to write it down so it wouldn’t be lost. I tried to do that when I was in my thirties, but it was a pitiful effort. I decided that I didn’t have the talent necessary to write it, so I forgot about it. Until I was in my sixties.
Some things I learned about the history of Scotland demanded to be told. I tried to write a fictionalized account of them, but, as with my grandmother’s story, my efforts were lame. But I’d discovered something during the intervening years: most things can be learned, and if you apply yourself, you can do a passable job of quite a few things.
So I set out to learn how to write.
After I wrote my first novel, High on a Mountain, the next thing I wrote was my grandmother’s coming-of-age story. This time, I was happy with it. But now, after it has rested on my computer the four years since I wrote it, I can see it’s woefully lacking. I want it to be a tribute to my grandmother, so I’ve decided to rewrite “The Blue-sprigged Dimity Dress,” to make it something she would be proud of.
I’m starting the rewrite today.
Ma, this is for you.