I’ve missed blogging. For months, I’ve been consumed with writing, revising, editing, re-revising, formatting, and uploading a family history. About twelve hours ago I uploaded the final version to Amazon’s CreateSpace. At least, I hope it’s the final version. There have been several.
To keep the documents and uploads straight, I began naming the versions something besides the book title, Our Lighted Seasons. Names included Getting Closer, Feeling Optimistic, This Is It, Going Nuts, and Monday Beach. Each time, there was some little something not quite right that sent me back to the drawing board. Most of the time it was a formatting issue, but other times it was a simple typo or incorrect name. Whatever. It’s done now.
In case I forget to mention it later, the staff at CreateSpace is phenomenal. Regardless of the time a writer calls, someone is there to take the call and calmly and expertly walk and talk the person through a problem. They never snicker or sneer, not even when reading titles like “Going Nuts 4.” They work from settings all over the world and are available 24/7.
Later, I’ll share a little about the writing process, how an aunt I never met planted a seed and literally took over my life until I put fingers to keyboard and pretty much kept them there—except for the two weeks around Christmas when my Mac developed a virus and had to spend some time with the computer doc. The young technical specialist, evidently concerned about my near histrionics, took my hand and told me gently that it wasn’t what happens in life that matters but rather how we react to it. “You’ll get through this just fine. Believe me.”
I didn’t tell him I had taught psychology for more years than he’d been walking the earth but that sometimes application is harder than knowledge.
Before writing the history, there was a moderate amount of field work, too—visiting cemeteries, asking questions, reading books and articles, and even visiting some old stomping grounds of ancestors. Gathering information was so enjoyable that I figuratively help up a sign in my mind that said STOP. That was easier said than done.
Even after months of organizing and writing the draft (second or third or fourth), I still received information from others, some of it too good to postpone until the second edition. I didn’t know that one of my great grandfathers had served in the state legislature! Nor was I aware that some information about my forebears came from a document titled “Protestant Immigrants.” And then there was that little detail about a great grandmother shooting chickens from her front porch for lunch.
But once the history was organized into sections and chapters, adding additional stories, pictures, and dates was a matter of squeezing them in…and I do mean squeezing. After placing photos and formatting sections, it’s difficult to add even one word without a page going catawampus. One minute there’s a pretty page with a family photograph positioned in the top left-hand corner, and the next moment the picture has gone AWOL, and half the page is blank. The undo symbol and I became buddies.
So now I’m waiting as patiently as possible. That’s not easy for me. I learned that one of my grandmothers wasn’t that patient either. When she wanted something done, she wanted it done yesterday! DNA at work? It’s possible. After all, she contributed one-fourth of who I am.