Monday, January 14, 2008

Cruising the Caves

I've been cruising through writer caves over at Paige's, thanks to a link from Somewhere Silver. My writer cave was moved from a room with a door, to a corner of the family room this week, when I surrendered our son's bedroom as he returned home from college. The mother in me rejoiced, but my Muse left the scene sobbing that she just couldn't possibly work anymore. I told her that tears would get her nowhere, and then offered her some bamboo. (Panda muses are famously fond of bamboo, particularly the chocolate variety.)

After viewing dozens of pictures of writer's lairs, it seems to me that the only equipment a writer must have is a creative mind. Of course, a laptop or a computer is a help, but after that, a writer's cave can be pink or punk, elegant or haphazard, cluttered or streamlined, pink, blue, white, yellow, red or rainbow -- what matters is the writer inside the cave and the mind inside the writer.

A book that I'm finding especially helpful in writing my family history, and in particular my mother's biography, is Organizing & Preserving Your Heirloom Documents, by Katherine Scott Sturdevant. Her ideas are solid and practical and I'm applying them to things - like how to organize and present the letters my parents sent each other in WWII. There are only twenty-three pages about preserving and using photographs, out of a 238 page book, so it is important to note: Sturdevant's focus is on documents - diaries, letters, recipe books, baby books, scrap books, autograph albums, account books, etc. and how to extract meaningful information from them.

I would like to find a good book on 'Organizing and Preserving Your Family Photographs' too. Scanners, digital cameras and software to manipulate photographs have improved and changed so dramatically that the most recent book I could find is outdated, although only five years old.

Sturdevant also wrote Bringing Your Family History to Life through Social History, but it has become so rare that most copies go for over $50. Thankfully, the Portland Library still has a copy.

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