Who’s the Elsie in Your Life?

I’ve just come back from a pilgrimage with my cousin Susan to Lameroo in Murray Mallee country, South Australia. We’ve been researching the life of our Grandmother Elsie.

In a town of 500 people, nosy strangers staying any longer than a few days, get noticed. ‘What are you doing here?’ asked the young woman on our third visit to the only café in town. She’s making me my daily oat-milk latte. Yep, there I am, city snob in the country.

‘I’m writing a novel based on the life of my grandmother, Elsie. She was deserted by her husband and committed to an asylum. She lost all contact with her four children for twelve years. The story starts here in this town,’ I reply.

She’s frothing the milk as tears well up in her eyes. ‘That’s so sad,’ she says. ‘I can’t believe I’m crying.’

‘It’s okay,’ I say, squeezing her hand as she hands me the coffee. There’s something more she wants to tell me, but the café is busy and customers await, so we leave.

Now here I am three days later, still haunted by our brief interaction. Perhaps she too has a woman like Elsie in her life? Or perhaps it is her own life?

My grandmother Elsie lost her voice, her agency, and the love of her family. It’s a historical story, yet an ageless one. It’s still happening to women today. When we return to Lameroo to launch this book one day, this young woman will be the first to be invited.

Who’s the Elsie in your life? Will you write her story?

We’ll be discussing these ideas and more at the Brave Women Writers Dinner on Thursday 16 May in Melbourne. It’s an intimate dinner for 12 women where we’ll be workshopping and sharing our stories. I’d love for you to join me.


With love

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Are you a woman who yearns to share your story with the world? Do you often suppress your inner voice and wait for that perfect day to write? Or perhaps you’ve begun writing and are feeling stuck? If so, the Brave Women Writers’ Circle is the right place for you.

Carolyn Tate is an experienced author and educator and is the facilitator of the Brave Women Writers’ Circle. The 12-week course guides you to bring your writing project to life while connecting you to a courageous community of other women writers.