Forty odd years ago my mother, Patricia Nunn and her good friend Nancy Sokil, put together a proposal for a documentary film that told the story of three indigenous women from different countries who worked against overwhelming odds to uplift and empower their communities.
‘When the Ground is Hard, the Women Dance,’ did not get funding. My mother framed the cover of the proposal and hung it on the wall of her home library as a reminder of what might have been. I grew up with that framed poster in my vision. I loved the title and, the idea that women have the power to change the world with small acts of grace and defiance, stayed with me.
Fast forward four decades to me at my desk with a finished manuscript and a list of terrible titles; none of which resonated with the story of a female friendship that changes the lives of Lottie and Adele, the two main character. The African proverb, ‘When the Ground is Hard, the Women Dance,’ is quoted in the book. It is Adele’s mother’s favourite proverb as it is my own mother’s.
My agent Catherine Drayton suggested that the first half of the proverb would make a perfect title and she was right. This summer I visited my parents and, there on the wall, was the framed proposal. I’ve posted it here. The seed that was planted a long time ago and grew into a book.