For the past couple of days I’ve felt out of sorts about this project. I’m writing. The words and pages are piling up, though not as fast as I’d like. But I’ve felt bogged down, like I was dragging something heavy on my feet, or maybe they were tangled in algae on the bottom of a pond. I’ve been indulging in the sort of behavior described in today’s Heart and Craft post. This afternoon A Voice snarled, “This has no interest to anyone but you, and maybe a couple of your grandkids. I know you won’t quit, but get done with it. You have real writing to do!”

Wow! That Voice is not one I’m familiar with. I haven’t heard that one before. It was definitely masculine. Unusual. Nobody specific that I know. I thought about it. There is some truth to it. Outwardly my early life was less than thrilling to hear about. The excitement was on the inside. Girl against emerging woman. Girl against perceived expectations of others. Girl against her own expectations.

There was another aspect to that message that totally puzzled me. The Voice knows me well enough to realize I will not drop this project. But I do not know what this real writing is. Woo woo!

Suddenly I felt overwhelmingly sleepy. Rather than fight it, or go for a cup of coffee (I’m decaffeinating for a few days, which is less oppressive than I anticipated — I still allow myself a couple of cups of tea) I headed upstairs and lay down for a nap. I fell instantly asleep, for about ten minutes, and had a firestorm of dreams. I don’t recall a single one, but they were intense. When I woke up, the storm was over and the sun shining — at least inside — Mother Nature is still weeping her eyes out beyond the window.

I’ve been writing topically, more or less chronologically within the topics. My dis-ease has centered on lack of vision about how to chop up the topics and reintegrate them. The answer is clear now. I won’t even try. I’ll stick with the topics, and probably devote a chapter to each. This is not a new idea, but I feel more settled about it.

This could all change. But the decision calms me for now, and restores my sense of flow.

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Looking at the mishmosh of stories and scenes that I’ve piled up, I’m reminded of jigsaw puzzle pieces. This memoir is a jigsaw puzzle, and there is no picture on the lid. Someone else, perhaps Karen Walker, recently compared her writing project to a jigsaw puzzle. It’s not a new idea for either of us. I don’t know about her, but for me it isn’t time to get serious about assembling the puzzle yet. Too many pieces are still in the box, or lying face down. It’s tempting to start tagging stories together now, and as I write, I do some of that. But no! Keep writing! Just let the stories flow as they will.

One way I’m avoiding this sidetrack is by not printing anything out yet. I won’t print until I have more or less a full draft.

On the other hand, today I launched into a disgusting pile of “stuff” that’s been sitting on a counter in my all-purpose room. Part of the pile was a portfolio of old stories that I’d gone through recently. I found a seventeen page draft of Los Alamos memories that I wrote two or three years ago (I’ve started this project more than once). I need to find the file for that printout and maybe patch it onto the end of my current one.

If it sounds as if I’m going in circles or spinning my wheels, that’s because I am! Back to the story now…

You  may have read my Blogspot posts about New Year’s Resolutions, Mind Mapping, and the breakthrough I had that enabled the words to flow. I’ve been agonizing for months over how to get started. Where is the tension? What’s the real story? Simply documenting memories, events, and how we did things is not enough to make a compelling story. That may have archival value for the family, but it won’t be gripping reading, and it will not explain the essence of me.

Fortunately, after listening to hours of downloaded NAMW member teleseminars, trading thoughts in the Life Writers Forum that Jerry Waxler and I cohost, and generally shooting the breeze with other memoir writers, it hit.

My “story” is not about events. It’s about how early events, thoughts, perceptions and beliefs shaped my thinking for decades and ultimately led me to where I am today — a place I rather like. It is essentially an overview of the seeds of my soul.

Once I had that clear, words began to flow, almost of their own accord, and they are not words that would have occurred to me had I remained in left-brain “puzzle it out” mode. These words came from elsewhere.