The Work of Writing

Draft Autobiography Outline

My ancestors first landed in North America in what today are the states of Virginia and Minnesota. I don’t know of any other connections but those two states.

My Virginia origins have obscure beginnings in the 17th Century. My Minnesota origins are tied to specific immigration from Poland in the 19th Century after the Civil War. I know a lot about these lines, but not as much as I may think.

Genealogy has been faddish for me. For a while a rush of interest. Then research halts and things sit for months or years. I enjoy discovering new artifacts, like the recent discovery of my parents’ wedding announcement in the newspaper. Such joy is insufficient to turn me into a consistent miner of artifacts and information. It’s been a hodge-podge endeavor from the get-go.

I hope to sustain an effort with the current memoir project. That means getting organized, developing a writing plan and sticking with it.

It is hard to determine a timeline, but necessary. Equally difficult will be choosing which parts to write about and in which order. I need to be in a place where the outline is finished and broken down into 1,000-word bites for drafting. I don’t know how long it will take to draft, edit and proof 170,000 words. Longer than expected, for sure.

The general rule is to write 1,000 words per day. By write, I mean draft because editing will take multiple amounts of the time drafting will. I expect as many as a dozen revisions, probably more. Likewise proof reading is important and time consuming. One has to get outside the narrative to a place where the literal words on the page mean nothing except for their correct spelling, grammar and elimination of redundancy and extra words. These things take time.

A couple of hours can produce 1,000 draft words with this type of work. That assumes a proper outline and work plan that puts the research into a semblance of order. It’s possible to do that.

So five steps: organize documents and artifacts, prepare an outline, create a first draft, edit and revise the draft, and proof read.

This spring is shaping up to be busy with the part time job at the home, farm and auto supply store, gardening, farm work, political work, community work, and the Food Policy Council. Somehow the memoir project needs to find a space. (I always forget to mention family. Why is that?)

I plan to continue writing this blog most days, but need to add a period of daily time to organize for writing the memoir. The photo above is a first attempt to get something on paper. There will be revisions as work continues to sustain this project.