Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Index Cards

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.

3 comments:

Susannah said...

Hi, Nita. Susannah Azzaro here. I've been enjoying your blog tremendously. I'm not sure why, but this entry really piqued my interest. I think I liked Aimee's comment about each index card representing a moment of change or discovery...maybe it's because I am interested in change and discovery within myself....maybe I really DO have something to write about! :-) So now are you weeding out? And then after you weed out, what next? I can't wait to find out!

I want to share two links with you and your readers that might be of interest. I stumbled upon this software last year when I was trying to build a timeline of significant events in my life: http://www.lifejournal.com/ They even have a version for writers.

Also...have you ever heard of Bloglines (http://www.bloglines.com)? It is an online RSS reader. In short, it allows you to subscribe to blogs, and then it lets you know when the blogs you've subscribed to have been updated. You can look at my public Bloglines page to get a feel for it:
http://www.bloglines.com/public/sazzaro. So....this morning when I signed in to Bloglines, I was alerted to the fact that you had created a new entry. It's basically a one-stop-shop for all of the blogs you're subscribed to. Pretty cool, huh?

Good luck with your memoir! Maybe I'll bump in to you again soon and we'll have more time to chat.

Anonymouse said...

Thanks Suzanne! These are wonderful resources.

ShelGraves said...

Hi Nita, fellow Goddard student here(G1) I've been enjoying checking in and hearing about your MFA experience. One of my favorite manage a novel ideas comes from lawyer turned writer Bob Dugoni who, stealing a technique from working on legal cases, plots his books across huge sheets of butcher paper hung around his writing room. Not as easy to carry to a coffee shop, but that's a writer for you, doing whatever it takes to get that book down - including writing on the walls!