The good news is I didn’t receive a single rejection for The Eyes Have It during the lead-up to Christmas. I also didn’t receive any offers. Currently my queries are still in the hands of 13 agents and 9 small publishers. As of the second week of January, no correspondence, positive or negative. I did prepare two additional queries for publishers. What will the rest of 2019 bring for Eyes?
For now, that’s out of my hands. So what’s a writer to do? This writer tripped over an ancestry search last September and fell into a terrifyingly complex yet thrilling new project. It likely will take a couple or more years to complete properly, but it has adrenaline surging through my veins daily.
My cousin from the Boston area inquired about a shared ancestor. He’d been unsuccessful finding any information about him, so he asked if I could search church records, since his last known residence was in Troy, NY. The church records belonged to the church I was raised in and attended into early adulthood – the only Protestant Armenian Church in this part of New York State.
My name doesn’t sound Armenian, you say? Well, before marriage, my last name was Essegian. I was active in our church all through my first two decades, including participation in the Armenian Protestant Youth Fellowship (APYF).
Then life crowded out many things, participation in my church included. I stayed abreast of the goings-on through my mother–until the early nineties when she died. Around then, coincidentally, one of my APYF friends was hired as a new minister for the church. She virtually reincarnated a dying church while she was there. But she lived in the Boston area with her family. So after 8 years she left the church, and from then until the early 21st century it declined. By the time I inquired about the church records, the church had closed–a century after its founding–and the building was for sale.
I was fortunate enough to connect with the former minister, my APYF friend, and made connections with some church members who were still around–including one of the brothers handling the sale of the church building. He let me into the church, we located the record books, and after consulting with another senior congregation member, they allowed me to borrow the books for a couple of weeks.
Wading through the history in those books, seeing so many familiar names, including my grandparents–who died before I was born but were involved in the founding of the church–flipped some switch in my head. I wanted to write a history of this church, founded during the mass migration of Armenians to America to escape annihilation by the Ottoman Turks. I wanted to learn more about not just the church, but the people who came before me in the church and what their lives were like – as survivors, as immigrants, as first and second generations of those Armenians fortunate enough to escape the genocide.
And so it began.
I will continue to report as my adventure continues!