Thursday’s Special Feature: Joyce Gatschenberger

Getting This Done

Writing a family story involves investigating and retelling intricate details of one’s ancestors.  The process can be time-consuming and emotionally exhausting.  Deciding to enter this endeavor appeared to be straightforward and obvious.  Time was available and the intention had been simmering within me.  My journey of memoir writing began.

Three years have deteriorated since I made that decision.  A convoluted web of intrusions has invaded my attempts to complete this task and been overwhelming and enticing – not writing is always easy.  Staying on task, monitoring my writing habits and truth to the discipline, of task completion, were tested at every turn.  I  physically moved multiple times, bought and sold my house, rewritten and reorganized the memoir draft multiple times, hired an incompetent editor who “rearranged” the writings and fared-off family members who offered their own opinions on childhood events.

Organizing life events into coherent content challenged my organizational ability and memory skills.  The blank computer screen or the teasing void on a notepad was my daily taunt. Family gatherings begged the opportunity for a verbal rehearsal of partially written prose – I resisted.  Intermittent computer failures offered to exasperate, head shaking moments in which all written prose appeared to have been lost in a vast abyss of blackness.

Deciding to publish electronically or traditionally offers choices that I still haven’t deciphered.  A well-known “on-line” publishing company advertises that it will “assist the novice publisher” in getting new publications into the web-based world.   However, even this site requires that the rookie writer is well versed in computerized publication formats.  Molding thoughts, feelings, and reflections concerning long hidden family secrets into a coherent form don’t signify that publication is imminent – you are a writer. Editing, publishing and marketing formats should always be in the forefront of your mind as any written project begins.  Two hundred pages of written text, selected family photos, annotated footnotes and selected references signal that the end is in sight.  Writing offers the suspicion that I have entered another all-consuming career that requires tenacity and dedication – I can get this done!

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