I was sitting in Stauf's Coffee Roasters in Grandview when I read the most recent letter from my Goddard MFA Advisor Aimee Liu. I squealed so loudly that the man at the next table jumped. I now know that Aimee Liu is a writer after my own heart. She suggested color-coded index cards!
Last March, in yet another attempt to get a handle on the memoir I'm writing about my father, I created a 64-page, single-spaced, five-color Chronology of Events gleaned from my journals and from hours of interviews with my sister and mother. Purple for Dad’s illness. Pink for mine. Yellow for our relationship. Green for golf. Blue for anything else important.
April found me creating matching index cards and by May I found software to track it all IN FULL COLOR! The result? 247 CARDS in five colors! They are gorgeous, but when I tried to lay them out and move them around to find a shape for the book, their sheer number overwhelmed me.
Now I see the problem. Aimee wrote, “Each [card] should represent a moment of change or discovery.” I fear I have fallen into the memoir trap of thinking something mattered just because it happened to my father during the relevant time period. In fact, I need to choose a few bright moments and make those tell the story.
Time to try the index card thing again.