This week I should be winding myself back up, putting myself in gear, and looking 2012 in the eye with a here-I-come attitude. I should be. And I would be if in recent weeks I had wound myself down, put myself in park, and chilled long enough to say “good-bye” to 2011. But though I managed a few wonderful holiday moments with family, I couldn’t stop to take a real break, because I was making a deadline on a personal quest – a resolution made last year to complete a project of compiling my grandmother’s stories on CDs and sent to cousins by December 31.
When I began the project, I sat down and decided, “This should only take a few days.” My grandmother had passed years before and it was difficult to trigger recollections, so I delved into history books and watched history TV. A few weeks later, I said, “just one more day” and each following day I repeated the proclamation until it reached completion six years later. One cousin called it, “tenacity”. I’m leaning towards “obsession”. And now I’m basking in satisfaction for not breaking last year’s resolution – even if I did miss that goal the previous five years.
But now what? my writer-self asks. What will I do to lose the tension of the day? Where will I go to see things like I never saw before? What will keep me intrigued as does getting to know those ancestors whose lives have grabbed me with surprise, sorrow and delight? How will I experience that sweet ride of the words without having an impelling reason for the quiet tick-tick-tick of the keyboard guiding my creativity and imagination? This sucks.
Then again, perhaps not. I still have many blinking leaves on Ancestry.com and I’m sure I’ll find a new muse from a zillion different stories yet to be recalled and discovered. There’s a lot of darn good tales in that tree left to be written – both truth and fiction. Even seeking information about unrelated historical people can be easily found. I highly recommend Ancestry.com to any writer who needs facts or inspiration, but most of all, researching family history can be an enriching experience for everyone. Simply, it’s great for the soul.
The project even led to the discovery of things I might not have ever known. For example, I made good use of Google Maps when researching census records to establish a location timeline. And don’t get me started on how fantastic I have found Google Earth to be! A homebody like myself can fly – yes, fly like a bird! – anywhere around the world, into the universe, under the sea, and during different eras! The engineers of this wonderful software app get a high twenty (all fingers and toes) for saving me a lot of leg work, not to mention traveling expenses! And it’s fun!
When it came time to create the CDs, I just couldn’t picture handing Grandma’s special stories to my cousins on a dull, naked disc with the title written in felt pen, and I wanted it to be easily found in a pile of CDs (more for my benefit than others – I lose a lot of discs). Then I recalled the LiteScribe label engraver that had come bundled with my laptop, which I’d never tried, though I had bought a stack of LiteScribe CD blanks, thinking one day I might use them for a Moonlight Design collection. It takes about 15 minutes for engraving each CD, but well worth the time, and I’m sure I’ll be using it more in the future.
I discovered the convenience of using my new Kindle Fire for sharing the CD with my sister who refuses to move into the high-tech world for any reason. She asked if I might print out the stories for her – all 37902 words, along with multiple folders of information and color images. She doesn’t understand the cost of ink. (Who does?) I have a special Kindle mail address where I can send documents that I want to read on the Fire, so now I can call up Grandma’s stories on it and hand it to her (but she will have to tap her own pages. I have to draw the line somewhere!)
And on the “life” side of things … I learned that our history books need more than an update; they require a total upgrade. Better said, let’s revamp – toss them out and start all over! What I was taught in school certainly isn’t what I know now as truth! Oh sure, the skeleton of facts are there, though inaccuracies are many as stated in “Lies My Teacher Told Me”, but when you start filling in the lives, emotions, beliefs and cultures, a completely different view emerges. After the last six years of merging my grandmother’s stories with American history that covered the last few centuries, seems to me we’ve created a big ol’ tale that has been washed over, manipulated by pride and prejudice and has survived via naivety and ignorance.
Well, that’s just my two stitches. Now, on with 2012! 🙂