Author Linda Bledsoe got start at RCCSep 24, 2019
“The life of a lot of children in this world can be cold and hard, and you have to figure your way out.”
So said Linda Bledsoe, a resident of both Eden, and Stuart, Virginia.
With a goal of being a nurse, she was accepted into a program in Danville. Three months in, she said, “I was told I needed to leave the program because I didn’t have any money.”
Bledsoe admitted she cried for weeks, before finding Rockingham Community College, in her own back yard.
“Sometimes if we just look around, we might find what we need right there for us,” she said. “I knocked on RCC’s door, and I was accepted here. And then I learned something about pre-requisites. I worked on getting those out of the way, with loans and scholarships.”
Bledsoe went through the Registered Nurse program, and after a couple of years in that field, she obtained her Family Nurse Practitioner Certificate from UNC-Chapel Hill.
“I am so grateful that this place was here for me … and for all the other kids that come knocking on the door and they don’t have a way through any other avenue, and can go from here, if they wish, to other places.”
Through the years, Bledsoe has co-published articles in various medical journals. And now, she has published a novel.
On Sept. 10, she came back to her beloved campus to share her book.
Bledsoe had joined The Writer’s Group in Rockingham County, where everyone wanted her to title the book, “Poor White Trash.” But something inside of Bledsoe urged her to name it “Through the Needle’s Eye,” instead, “because sometimes that’s how hard it is to go through to your destiny. It’s not easy sometimes.”
It’s a fictional book, “and it’s got a whole lotta me in it,” Bledsoe said. “It’s told through a child’s eye. Often, we as adults, even though we have kids and nephews and nieces, we have different kids who bump into us in our lifetime that need guidance. We can do something to get them on the right track.”
The child in the book is Jesse, and the reader experiences what she sees in her life, and the people around her.
“A bold, loud voice comes out, and her name’s Granny Isabelle, a fictional character made up of a lot of other people I’ve met in my life,” Bledsoe said. Granny is described as “a toothless, wizened humpback spitfire who spouts scriptural admonitions like spears.
“I think probably everybody I’ve met that’s made any importance in my life is summed up in this one book,” she said.
Bledsoe, seated in a high chair at the front of an open area in RCC’s Gerald James Library, read aloud from the book’s second chapter, which emphasizes how important an adult figure is in a little girl’s life.
“Some people say Granny Isabelle raised me. She taught me about gardening and life. ‘A needle ain’t worth a hill of beans without no eye,’ she said, ‘and no thread in the eye can’t sew nothin’ up.’ And I whispered, ‘But Granny, can a needle sew me up, when I ain’t nothin’ much leftover but little bitty pieces, even if I’m all gashed up inside?’ And she spoke wisely, ‘Well some things a body can’t fix, but some things you can fix your own self. And the good difference is knowin’ what can and can’t be fixed, knowin’ what you can and can’t do without making things worse off. Then you let the rest go.’ Well I studied on my own self getting sewed on and rolling her words over as she rambled on, ‘A needle with its eye full of blue, strong, cotton thread, it can sew just about anything, even you, I suppose. But I hope to God it won’t never happen, me having to sew you up an’ all. You my little angel.’ And with that, she patted a scrawny baked hand on my stringy head for a little bit, and then her dull eyes fastened to the ground, and she hoed faster….”
Following the rest of Bledsoe’s reading, local author Tom Lanier shared an anecdote: “When Linda first came to The Writer’s Workshop, I didn’t know her from Adam. But as [we] sat there, jaws dropped. She got to reading, and we knew we had a star.”
Barbara Golding – another former RCC student and author – nodded. “I felt it then. Thank you for such a beautiful book.”
“I’ve been wanting to write a book since I was about 20 years old. I always knew I’d write a book one day, but I don’t know if I believed it back then,” Bledsoe said. “I worked for 35 years as a nurse practitioner. I saw a whole lotta stuff. And I just wanted to get something out that maybe would help kids or college students to understand. I just want so badly for them to understand, you don’t have to settle for your circumstances if they’re not the best. We are in a country where we can do just about anything we set our minds to, I think. You just gotta be persistent and go after it.”
It took about five years for Bledsoe to write “Through the Needle’s Eye” – “And you actually become the characters yourself. And you can’t hardly shake them off,” she said.
Bledsoe sometimes would spend up to 10 hours writing.
“It was as if something would just come down from heaven and beam through me and come out on the pages,” she said, adding that she has met several authors and poets who have had that experience as well.
“You have to write it down. Because if you don’t write the gift down, it leaves.”
Gerri Hunt is director of public information at Rockingham Community College. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 336-342-4261 ext. 2170.