It’s Really Been a Ride!
by Virginia Williams
It wasn’t until I started riding motorcycles at age 55 that I really started writing. Oh yes, I’d done some writing as a girl, winning a couple articles in the local newspaper (one with my picture), and again after I married. Years later during one of our moves, I ran across that fledgling manuscript and deemed it so atrocious I ripped it up before throwing it out.
As it happened, it was a motobuddy who turned me onto NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month). Thinking I’d finally found a vehicle in which the 50+ year old promise to my grandfather regarding his manuscripts could finally be turned into print, I proceeded with the first story, which he had titled Cocos Island Treasure. Little did I realize I was unhinging Pandora’s Box, and the one offering would eventually become six.
At a meeting in Sacramento of the Gold Country Riders (a chapter of Women On Wheels®), the director announced that the organization’s magazine was looking for stories. During my riding years, I wrote a number of articles for that magazine, as well as published stories and accompanying pictures in two other riding magazines, as well. Armed with that article writing history, I now felt that publishing my grandfather’s manuscripts was doable – then I ran smack-dab into the publishing and marketing learning curve.
Through the years, people who knew some of our experiences often asked why I didn’t write my own book (memoir?!).
In reflection, there were some major highlights: climbing Mt. Fuji by moonlight; participating in a choir that sang in St. Peters Basilica, Notre Dame, and a private program for Pope John Paul II; bringing out of the war a Croatian student from the Balkans who asked to stay in America, became a citizen, and is now in the U. S. Navy; and of course learning to ride a motorcycle, the latter of which plunged me into a sisterhood of strong, independent, capable, and courageous women never before or since experienced.
But my name is no more recognizable than that of my grandfather’s, and marketing an 85-year-old manuscript – complete with colloquialisms, slang, and sailing jargon – has been challenge enough. I’m having a good time with it, though it has taken a dedicated effort and focused energy. It has been generously called a “labor of love,” and I wish I could say I’ve learned a lot about my grandfather. Unfortunately, reading and interpreting his books has created more questions than answers.
You really are never too old to learn something new – I’ve been there/done that before, and am still working on it!
Virginia Williams is the granddaughter of Patrick John “Stanley McShane” Rose, who was born in 1872 on board his father’s vessel the Marguerite. Patrick passed in 1959 at the age of 87 in Long Beach, California. Left with pages of instructions regarding submission, it wasn’t until 2011 that Virginia actually discovered a way to publish his manuscripts. Visit Rose Point Publishing for more information.