In Memoriam for What Should Have Been

In the last couple of weeks a very dear friend died. She was ninety years old, so she had a long life enriched by love, art, friends and contribution to the community. No one can grieve a life well lived.
What does make me sad is what I was unable to do for her.
Her husband, who had died three years ago, had a rich life of design in theater, costumes, dresses, cuisine and home decoration. Over the years he wrote a historical romance novel about an eighteenth century Irish actress. Many times he tried to sell it to traditional publishing houses, but at the end his manuscript was stuck in a drawer.
His wife could not stand the idea of all that work going uncelebrated. I decided to help out because I had experience in formatting manuscripts for e-publishing and in preparing paperback copies for a regional print company.
I offered to do this work for her because I read her husband’s book and fell in love with it. He used all of his knowledge to create the world of theater in Dublin and London in a time of doublets and powdered wigs.
The actress, Peg Woffington, left home as a child to join the circus. When she was a teen-ager her contract was sold to a Dublin theater where she learned quickly to shine on stage. She became a star as she moved to larger theaters until she was the talk of London. Peg shocked people by turning to her fellow actors instead of addressing the audience. She regularly played the male lead. Her love life was the scandal of the British Isles. She was not called Peg. She was “The Woffington”, with the emphasis on wolf.
The paperback copies sold quickly. Friends assured her they were buying the e-books on line. My friends bought it on line and told me how much they loved it.
The problem was my friend never received payment from the e-publisher. She had modest goals. She figured she had $200 in royalties coming to her. She kept telling me she needed that $200. She talked to company representatives. I talked to company representatives. Still no $200. At one point I offered to advance her the money, but she wouldn’t hear of it.
I knew how she felt. I self-published several books and am still in the hole. That’s why I put my stories now on my blog and let people read them for free. If I get a “thumbs up” along the way, that’s good enough.
But it wasn’t enough for my friend. We were still figuring out what to do when I saw her obituary in the newspaper.
I don’t know what else I could have done to help her. I did the best I could, but my best wasn’t good enough.

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