Some years ago I started to write a terrific book because………
If there’s a book that you want to read, but it hasn’t been written yet, then you must write it.”
…just like Toni Morrison advised, it is a book that I want to read.
It’s the story of my friend, Antoinette, and her years in Cuba as a young American woman who couldn’t get back to the USA. Her Cuban dad had sneaked his American wife and three young daughters out of the country to help the Cuban Revolution.
It’s going to be such a great book… I just better finish it.
Antoinette and I worked at Western Union Telegraph operators at the Central Telephone Bureau in Moorestown, New Jersey. We became friends when I found out who was punching in my time card…early! Our first names and last names had the same amount of letters (Marguerite Wunsch) and (Antoinette Chicca)…..! This new operator on “the Spanish line” didn’t always wear her glasses so she grabbed the first card that looked like hers–by the length of the names. After I hunted her down and thanked her for making me early to work every day, we became good friends.
She told me bits and pieces of her life in Cuba. I begged her to write it down. She said that she didn’t have a word processor. I didn’t have one, either, so nothing happened. We both did get word processors and then computers. Nothing happened. Then, I joined a writing group.
Sharon, good friend and writer, advised me to write a book about that time in Antoinette’s life–what a story, she said, Instead of sneaking out of Cuba, a family sneaks into Cuba. The oldest daughter ends up making a life there, but she is longing to go back to the USA. Love and romance. Joy and sorrow. Creation and desperation. Sharon and I agreed–that story deserves a book.
Antoinette and I worked on the book for years–in her living room, in my bedroom, in a nameless diner where they told me to put away my laptop, in a pizzeria, in Taco Bell and any other place where we could get together…and anywhere there might be food. Hmm. I think we met in Dunkin Donuts, too. Food jogged her memory and nourished my typing hands. It was fun.
I started out in the first person, then changed it to the third person. Big mistake. Changing it back to the first person was a minor nightmare. It was not fun.
I workshopped chapters. I dreamed about the plot. I obsessed about the characters.
Then, I got tired. I was teaching full-time and I lost my zip. Now I’m retired (hopefully, re-fired) and I intend to finish the book. I’m going to read my draft, reread and reread my draft and write it from scratch.
Antoinette is rushing me because she hoped that the book would be picked up for a movie, She is worried that Jennifer Lopez will be too old to play her character if I don’t finish the book soon.
Now that I am retired, I have a lot of time to read. And, I want to read this book.
So I’m going to write it!
Marguerite Ferra, blogging from Cramer Hill
(In case you don’t know, Cramer Hill is a section of Camden, New Jersey.)