On Writing–Eventually you’ve got to start


Start what? Writing! Yesterday I took these pictures of the pingpong table in my basement office (not to worry, I’m not a complete mole, there are windows that face the bird feeders and sunset, although it is chilly!). The point of these pictures is how easy it is to get overwhelmed with material, especially with the amount of primary source material available via the Internet–yikes! From left to right: the brown with a pink stripe object is the 3-ring notebook in which I keep completed manuscript pages (I write and revise as I go, aiming for producing final copy.); there a couple of books on & under the notebook that I’m using for double-checking; a 1,000 piece puzzle is under the notebook–periodically working on the puzzle keeps me from solidifying in my chair and helps me focus; more books(many from the stacks at the Columbia University library–see early blog for picture of the stacks) and papers are spread out on the table; taped to the bookshelf in the upper right corner is a double-entry chronology–ECS on the left, SBA on the right, the green post-it & red note card taped to the side have contextual info. The second picture shows the box in which I keep all relevant information, including folders for each chapter. More books are piled up on the bureau (yes, that is a statue of Santa Claus that my father made in the early 1940s. It was never fired but has survived moves back and forth across the U.S.) p.s. the journals in the metal bookshelves belong to my partner who is head of the program in intellectual disabilities and autism at Teachers College, Columbia University. The file cabinet holds maps and my women’s history photo archive.

Since the semester ended, I’ve been full-time into doing research for Stirring Up The World, Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Susan B. Anthony: A Biography of a Powerful Friendship, except for days when I’ve needed to tend to the production of Thanksgiving: The True Story, which I’m very happy to report will be out in September. And, of course, my Sophie-days and family birthdays, etc.

Yesterday, I got an email from the department secretary reminding faculty that the semester starts tomorrow; not that I had forgotten, but somehow the reminder-email made it real. Fortunately my first class isn’t until Monday, but that means just a few more days before I add more demands to my time and attention. So, clearly it’s time to shift from doing research to writing, which isn’t to imply that I haven’t been writing, I have, but nothing that excites me. Nor that I won’t continue to do research, just that I’ll shift my focus and intensity.

So, after all that, if you’re wondering whether or not I got up and started writing today? The answer is YES!

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