Saturday, April 30, 2011

Starting out

For years I have been writing a book.  For years.  The only trouble is, that I have never actually worked out which book I am writing.  Thus, I never finish it, I just keep starting it over and over.  There's the children's story I have been writing since my own children were small.  I must have twenty or thirty versions of the beginnings of that.  I know how it starts, and I know how it ends, but the middle has evaded me and I have never managed to get past the feeling that I ought to know what's going to happen before I start to write it.  And I don't.

There's the book about my spiritual journey, from childhood to adulthood.  I have started this more times than I can count, and have drafts of the first few chapters in books, in word documents, on scraps of paper, in diaries.  I have never managed to make a coherent narrative from it, and have even made lists of revelations, things that have happened, the things I believe and how I came to believe them.  I find that once I start to work on it in a disciplined way, which I have frequently started to do, I get irritated by the idea that I might be espousing things I don't actually believe, in my heart, or espousing things I don't actually do when I have a choice, and that it is hypocritical to continue to write it.  That or I think I come across as a saintly person which is very far from the truth.  Writing the truth, so that it doesn't talk the talk without walking the walk is the most difficult thing.

There there's the book I have been writing about home education, and about my transformation from a wholly conventional mother, sending her children to school, to a rabid unschooler.  Again, the trouble is that I have a natural (inherited) tendency to lecture, and I hate it when that comes through in the writing.  I try try try not to lecture people if I can help it, but I know that I catch myself after the fact sometimes.  In writing, it is obvious, and so I end up with a John Cage situation.  I write and write and then erase more than I write and am left with nothing at all at the end of it.

Then there's the book about my family history, which remains unfinished despite thirty years of work.  My major problem with it is the John Dickins who lived in the 18th and 19th centuries.  I know so much about this man, about he jobs he did, the places he lived, the people he married, his children and who they married.  What I don't know for certain is where he was born, and whether his father was indeed John Dickins of Church Preen, son of Richard Dickins of Church Preen.  The book, the History of Church Preen seems to indicate that he was, indeed that John Dickins... but then I have done enough family history over a long enough time to know that people ought not to accept at face value what a relative says.  My great aunt was convinced her aunt was a doctor, and she turned out to be a nurse.  Not that different, but different.

So I have failed to write down in a coherent way the things I have learned over the last thirty years and I think anyone in the family who comes after me will curse my lack of information - not the lack of notes and material, but the lack of a narrative which puts them in context or tells them where I obtained information.  I should have been doing this as I went along, and have advised many people not to make the same mistake, but the truth is, I would struggle to do this with the wealth of information I have collected, and I have so much information in my head and nowhere else, that it is difficult to know if I would ever finish, if I started now.

Then there's the more personal history I have not been writing for more or less all but the first 10 of my fifty two years.  I have written diaries and odd notes and for the past 13 years have written blogs and posts all over the net... but I have never yet succeeded in turning that into a narrative that other people might be interested to read.  Mostly I am like everyone else - say that I am interested in people and don't care if they are famous or not... but generally if I see an episode of "Who do you think you are?" for someone I don't recognize, it has to be said that I feel a lot less interested in it.  I fight against that feeling, but I do have it.

Then there is the book about being a Quaker, I have started to write but have stopped, for many of the reasons that I gave above for the spiritual diary.  Part of my belief as a Quaker is that everyone has their own path to God, and I don't like the feeling that I am telling people what it is right to believe or to think.  I'm not, but it can appear that way when trying to write down what drew me to Quakers, and why I feel I am one, and have always been one.

I've also often wanted to write down my feelings and thoughts and what I have learned about reincarnation, although a lot of what I thought I knew has been called into question recently.  I've started books about Second Life, how to use it and what it is.  I've started books about being a family historian, about the history of the Quakers in Uxbridge, about how to unschool, and about how to do various crafts I love, like beading and papier and fabric mache.  About the illness which struck my husband, and my experiences with my son when he was so ill in 2005.  All perfectly viable ideas which I haven't finished.

So... the trouble is you can't cobble one book out of the beginnings of all of them.  I need to have discipline, which I have never had, decide on a subject and stick with it, rather than changing my mind once I have written thee or four chapters.  So.  I have decided that as blogging is something I have successfully done in the past on a regular basis, I will try to make one blog post every morning, because I do other things and get caught up in the day.  And this is the beginning.

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