I am deafened by my own silence here. I am glad to have set a goal of a month for completion of Chapter 4, but I now feel guilt in having allowed six weeks to pass without a word. I think I am making headway, if not ready yet to pour the elements of my alchemical brew into the mold I want.
One would think that it should not take much doing to introduce a laundress after all. How much interest can she generate? Where is the drama? My progress is dismally slow. Perhaps I should forget this chapter---; I know I won’t. The more I read about the lives of young women in service in Victorian England the more appalling I find their lot. How did they stand up to the conditions they worked in, particularly in one servant, middle-class households?
So I am still collecting and compiling background information, forming a wooden laundress puppet, a bit like Geppetto; but breathing in that something, which will turn her into a “real girl”, remains illusive. I feel that I am just waiting for the picture to come into focus, for the fog to clear; that she is standing right there, just out of my reach. I have faith.
Here is a list of the material I am reading/researching to create Susannah:
Inside the Victorian Home: A Portrait of Domestic Life in Victorian England, Judith Flanders, 2003
English Laundresses: A Social History, 1850-1930, Patricia E. Malcolmson, 1986
“Love Calls Us to the Things of This World”, poem by Richard Wilbur, from The Things of This World, 1956
Anna, washing, poems by Ted Genoways, 2008
“Sea Tongue”, poem by Kevin Crossley-Holland, 1991
The Cambridge Companion to Victorian Poetry, Joseph Bristow, 2000
"Maud", a monodrama by Alfred Lord Tennyson, 1855