I’ve spent a good part of the afternoon trying to organize and separate a mess of papers pertaining to my family history and memoir writing projects. I have a terrible habit of scribbling things on pages of steno notebooks I carry around. They are each supposed to be for a specific project, like one for my Alaska Sled Dog stuff and another for my serious socio-political essays and diatribes, one for current to-do lists and projects, goals etc. and still another for odd tidbits that pop into my quirky memory and may trigger an essay or vignette, an entry into the life-calendar or the register of livestock I worked with and so on. Even worse, I may find things on line or in reading old journals etc. and scribble them on some errant scrap of paper that just happens to be within reach. The result of course is a scrambled mess!
I’ve always made lists and notes and reminders, written pages of goals and resolutions (in earlier years I did them whereas I now do goals) and dissertations of philosophy and such. I laugh to read some dating back into the mid 1960s and seeing how much is still the same and where the changes occurred. I really make a fetish about trying to stay organized but I think I am a natural born slob, not to mention a packrat, a squirreler-awayer, and at times just plain lazy or rushed into throwing things into folders, boxes or a handy draw haphazardly. Of course that creates its own special punishment, for eventually you have to fix it. You are looking desperately for something you know you saw, wrote, found, or suddenly need and it has to be in that folder, this box or the third drawer there.
Out it comes. Piles all over the floor of like stuff—until you forget which goes where. Or you get distracted stopping to read something that looks utterly fascinating though you have no recollection of ever reading or even seeing it before! There are days I have the attention span of a kindergarten level gnat and anything can distract me, especially from a tedious and tiresome chore. I’ve fought that today and I actually did make some headway. Papers, notebook pages and haphazard jottings are roughly sorted into several categories which make sense to me although they would probably blow anyone else’s mind. And each is stowed in its own labeled file folder. Brave for me—for now!
The next step is to find several partial drafts of three related but dissimilar projects in my computer—probably on my main document storage flash drive-- and begin the task of putting these notes into digital form. Some will go on existing lists and tables, appendices of a sort to one or more of those three big projects.
You might ask: what are they? Well, one is a family history with quite a bit of genealogy and anecdotes that have come down through both sides of my family. There I keep finding new marriages and begats and property acquired and moves made, an occasional perhaps true story about something some ancestor or distant relative did and so on. That one doesn’t have a title. I began it the winter after my husband died, working on what I knew of his family first for the kids and grandkids and then picking up a start I had made for my two brothers and me after our mother had passed. I had a loose leaf binder for each of us with photos, documents and a fairly short narrative. I’ve had my youngest brother’s since his death and looking through it realize the whole thing needs updates and additions.
The decision to write my own life story came along sometime during those processes. I have not gotten too far but it’s inching along. I’m about ready to get through high school in that narrative. For now it is called Shoving Smoke and Herding Cats which pretty well portrays the way I always seemed to have gone about life!
Then when I was participating in the Older Writer’s League (our self chosen moniker) at the
and involved with a memoir-based vignette and essay project there, I saw a
different approach to sharing my memories. I have several friends who have
written some humorous and poignant short tales from their life experiences and
published them in collections and the idea has a lot of appeal. It would be a
kind of prose companion to my poetry book, Walking
Down My Shadows. For now the working title for that is Memoirs of a Rawhide Butterfly. Senior Center
I went through those short works today and got them into a loose leaf notebook. There is too much—damn, but I am a wordy creature! There is also duplication and redundancy among some of the individual pieces so that will take more work too. I may get brave and try to format it for an e-book myself and then get it up on Amazon or somewhere. I will have a long learning curve there, especially since I want to put photos into it as illustrations for many of the stories. Anyway, that is ‘where I’m at’ right now and the excuse for not having a new piece ready to go—with photos. Next week I will do my best to have one for you!