Tuesday, December 20, 2011

We Should All Try To Be More Amish- Roger Rheinheimer ,Amazon Kindle Best-Selling Author

One of the most rewarding aspects of creative writing, to me, is what I learn researching the project; having my assumptions challenged. When I decided to take on this serialized Amish romance story and was interviewing co-authors, I told them of my determination to portray an authentic depiction of Amish life. I was lucky enough to join up with Crystal Linn, a very talented writer as committed to authentic story-telling as I am.

We have a number of early readers, several that are former Amish and one man that is still a practicing Amish. The latter has a brother that married an English woman who joined the Amish faith, “went Amish,” he described it as, and they now have seven children. I’m trying to make contact with him also; I think his perspective would be invaluable for our story. Several of the things our early readers have helped with are Amish sayings, mannerisms and dress. For instance, we had our protagonist, Ava Troyer, wearing a bonnet in the house and one of our former Amish early readers pointed out that the bonnet was only worn outdoors as a hat both for warmth and to protect the white-netting head covering worn inside. She said, “It would be referred to as a head covering or a kapp (pronounced cop in PA Dutch).” We were also going to send Ava outside with bare legs in the winter, and she said, “No no no,” Amish women always wear leggings in winter.

I grew up in Amish country, raised in a Mennonite home, and feel like I know them pretty well. I have stayed overnight with Amish friends while in high school. My parents spoke Pennsylvania Dutch when we were young kids and didn’t want us to know what they were talking about. I learned my love for woodworking from Elmer Slabach, my Amish mentor, an accomplished craftsman. He was funny, talented, occasionally cranky, in other words, pretty human. He dipped snuff sometimes, and I even heard him swear under his breath one time when he ran two rows of shingles together on a roof we were putting shingles on, and had to redo it. With 250,000 practicing Amish in North America, there are going to be differences in speech and some practices, just like New York City residents love their bagels and people in New Orleans can’t get enough gumbo. And put someone from New York on the phone with a New Orleans native and see if they can even understand each other! So while Amish have similar practices and beliefs, the different “districts” have different accents and phrases just like the rest of us.

An early reader from Pennsylvania, now former Amish, sent photos of the valley she grew up in, and it is drop dead gorgeous. Amish, by and large, don’t use photographs, so in her former life this probably wouldn’t have happened. She’s a funny lady. During one of her pregnancies one of her Amish cousins, a five year old boy, asked if she was going to have an Amish or English baby. She was laughing. BTW, my maternal grandfather was born into an Amish family, and even after he left, would warily allow himself to be photographed, never looking at the camera.

Beyond their iconic dress and resistance to most things modern, what most sets the Amish apart from almost the entire rest of the world is their dedication to God, peace and non-violence, family, and above all else, good home cooking. We should all try to be more Amish.

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