Synopsis for I Belong to No One

When I was in my mid-40s and working hard on the corporate ladder, hubbie and I decided on a spur of the moment holiday. Unusually for people of our (then) age group, we booked two seats on a group coach tour around New Zealand, rather than hiring a camper van and exploring the country independently. I was too exhausted to do more than follow the crowd. It turned out to be a great holiday, and brought us into contact with a diverse, experienced, active group of people who were at a different life-stage than us.

One day, I found myself saying that I felt I had achieved in life all that I needed to. “If I died tomorrow, I’d die content,” I said. A septuagenarian fellow traveller looked at me sideways. “That’s a strange thing for a woman of your age to say,” she replied, slightly shocked. For my part, I didn’t understand her confusion – wasn’t dying content a good thing? Better than the alternative, in my opinion. And I had already chalked up more life experience than the average bear – how much more did I expect to be my due?

Of course she knew that I had a lot more living yet to do, and it was because I was currently stuck on the corporate treadmill that I couldn’t see the difference in one day versus another, or realise the day would come when I would be flung off the carousel.

Almost twenty years later, with four lovely grandchildren, and –  despite the lack of university undergraduate studies – a Master’s Degree, being just two examples of the notches added to that belt of life’s experiences, I am now facing one of the most hectic times of my life, with no hint of where it will lead, and whether there is an end-point, or whether this is the start of another life altogether.

In two weeks I turn 60. The band is booked, the guests invited, and if they wish to chat with me, they had better come on to the dance floor. I intend to celebrate that my health and fitness have made this journey with me. I’ll be kicking my heels up for all I am worth. (note to self: make sure the band plays “Wild Thing“).

In three weeks my memoir will be in store. I Belong to No One covers the first nineteen years of my life. When you read it, you may have a better appreciation of why I felt I was done and dusted by forty. The synopsis appears at the end of this post.

In five weeks I will hold the official “book launch” (come celebration). Arrangements for that are still a work in progress. The invitation list, for one, is still to be compiled.

In the meantime, interviews and promotion will be under-way. Many are already booked, including a very serious forum on the social impacts of domestic violence. I hope I can live up to the responsibility of reaching out to people in that discussion, and wherever that may lead.

THE SYNOPSIS

A teenager in the 1970s, Gwen Wilson grew up in Western Sydney. It was a tough childhood. Illegitimate, fatherless – her mother in and out of psychiatric hospitals; it would have been easy for anyone to despair and give up. Yet Gwen had hope. Despite it all, she was a good student, fighting hard for a scholarship and a brighter future.

Then she met Colin. Someone to love who would love her back. But that short-lived love wasn’t the sanctuary Gwen was looking for. It was the start of a living hell. Rape was just the beginning. By sixteen she was pregnant, her education abandoned. Australian society did not tolerate single mothers; prejudice and discrimination followed her everywhere. In an effort to save her son, Jason, from the illegitimacy and deprivation she’d grown up with, Gwen chose to marry Colin – and too quickly the nightmare of physical abuse, poverty and homelessness seemed inescapable.

In 1974, in the dying days of the forced adoption era in Australia, this isolated teenager was compelled to make a decision about her child that would tear her life apart, one she would never truly come to terms with.

I BELONG TO NO ONE is one woman’s story of all she lost and how hard she fought to survive and eventually triumph.

26 thoughts on “Synopsis for I Belong to No One

  1. I really enjoyed reading the fictional stories you posted a while back – you are such a good writer! So I look forward to reading your memoir too – often real life is so much more compelling than fiction. Best of luck with the birthday and upcoming book promotion.

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  2. Best wishes for your sixtieth, Gwen, and I’m so pleased to read you’ll be dancing and I hope it’s to something loud and rowdy! Landmark birthdays and book launches – it’s celebration time for you 🙂

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    • Thanks for your well-wishes Agnes. The group is called CLOCKWISE and they play music from the fifties forward to the eighties or nineties. Another resident had them for a party a few months back and the police were called on a noise complaint! They said they had never had to come to an over-55s before, plenty of hilarity all round. Anyway, I have invited EVERYONE who lives here, (with a numbers limit), so let’s hope no repeat of that problem, and that everyone who wants to party, gets to party. It certainly is a big, big time in my life. Hard to imagine it is all random co-incidence . . . it’s not as if I had any control over the timing of either event . . .

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      • I did wonder whether there had been some ‘smart’ planning, but I’m not surprised it’s random, a bit of a statistical cluster so I’m informed – auspicious stars aligning I like to think. Have a great loud party.

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  3. How we seldom really know anyone! I was so surprised to read your synopsis. I guess I assumed you have always just had it all-so to speak. Silly me-we all have a story of some kind, don’t we? I am so touched and impressed with the glimpse into your life that you have shared. What courage you have-and perseverance! Congratulations on your launching and your birthday. What journeys still await you!

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    • Thank you! And I agree, we all need to be alert to the stories people bring with them on life’s journey. I see it every day here where I live. I have been blessed with a store of resilience and perseverance, and thanks to my aunt’s influence, I tend to project a positive outlook more often than not. And, at the end of the day, I HAVE spent many years of my life in a comfortable situation. But I never regret the old memories. They help me recognise when the times are really good. I Belong to No One IS a very personal story, and in sharing it, I hope many will draw strength and re-assurance from reading it. Whether it resonates in America remains to be seen, but there are thousands of your citizens in every State striving to have adoption records unsealed, and I suspect some will find elements of my story quite relevant.

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  4. Congratulations Gwen … What a way to celebrate turning 60 !!. Dancing AND a book launch.!! You are an amazing woman and I truly pray that these coming weeks will be wonderful for you. I thought I would “google” some fun facts for you … At 62, J.R.Tolkien published the first volume of his fantasy series, “Lord of the Rings.” . Laura Ingalls Wilder – Author of Little House on The Prairie books was 64.when her first book was published. Mary Wesley’s first adult novel was published when Wesley was 71 and “The Chamomile Lawn,” which was made into a television series, was published when she was 72. (Looks to me like you are in fine company ..

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    • Sounds as if I am in fine company indeed. You have quite made my day! For a while there, while I was writing, it seemed the only ones getting published today were creative writing PHD students. Thank you for your support!

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  5. Oh Gwen what a life you’ve lived and what a fabulous gift u have of sharing it with us all!
    Go girl go!!! (There won’t b enough time in your days after book launch time !) Well done

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  6. Thank you Jolandi. There is a certain air of surrealism in the way it has all come together at the same time. It feel as if I am standing at a cross-road point. Exciting days indeed. I have been following your beautiful posts. So very interesting! And, in line with the strange co-incidences of late, the very day after your MATJIESFONTEIN post, I saw it again on a TV programme on train journeys!

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  7. What an amazing time for you, Gwen. Congratulations on your soon-to-be birthday. I hope you will have a wonderful party, and that the book launch and related activities surrounding it, will be fun, and the beginning of another exciting phase in your life. I lift my glass to you!

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