Over the past few days, I’ve been reading (and left-handed note-taking!) the book, Weinberg on Writing: The Fieldstone Method, by Gerald M. Weinberg. I have really enjoyed learning about this practical and imaginative approach to writing–perhaps due to my own semi-pantser style.
Throughout the book, Weinberg, an author of over 40 books, encourages writers to be on the constant lookout for “fieldstones” to gather for potential future writing projects–ideas, words, phrases, quotations, pictures, and so on which can be filed away for future reference. As you come across any of these kinds of inspiration which contain imaginative, creative “energy,” he says to be sure to “gather” them and find a way to sort them into subjects or ideas that you might be able to use in future writing.
I am a “gatherer” by nature; for example, when I lived on Haida Gwaii, I was constantly drawn to the wild north Pacific beaches, where I could not help but “beachcomb.” I also greatly enjoyed being a “stringer” for the islands newspaper, The Observer, writing a weekly column called “Masset Sounds,” which featured the sights, sounds, scents, textures and words of our community–a perfect excuse to carry on with my gathering instincts. And my bookshelves were constantly overflowing with new acquisitions that reflected this place and its people. At the time, I had no idea that someday I would start “building” a website, Haida Gwaii Building Bridges, that would use many of the “fieldstones” I had gathered over the years there. And I certainly had no idea that now, in 2016, I would sit down to start writing a memoir of the gatherings I had myself collected since I went there in 1979, and others my parents had collected in the 1950s when we lived there while I was young.
Just before I fractured my elbow, I picked up a perfect little notebook to carry around with me this summer, in which to record (writing and sketching) things that grab my attention–but I wasn’t quite sure how to go about it. Then I hurt my arm, and had to put it off for awhile anyway … and serendipitously, in this waiting time, with lots of time to read, I came across Weinberg’s book on gathering fieldstones for my writing … and now I am totally inspired and ready to get started!
What else have I been doing in the past few days? Other reading: a recent copy of Yes! magazine (“Concerned with building a more just, sustainable, and compassionate future with articles about economic alternatives and peace options” which certainly gives me hope in spite of some of the current politics that seem to be opposed), Susan Musgrave’s new Haida Gwaii cookbook, A Taste of Haida Gwaii (which I received for my birthday), catch up my reading of Writers Digest magazine (April, June and July issues), and enjoying short stories, essays and poetry by Canadian writers in back issues of The New Quarterly journal and in the anthology, Whispering Down the Well, a collection of writing by authors in nearby Oliver, BC.
I also celebrated my 61st birthday with family (they brought fudge birthday cake and Dairy Queen Buster Bars–perfect celebratory foods!), and I’ve been enjoying some perfect South Okanagan summer weather with temperatures in the high 20s and low 30s (Celcius), cooling off in the late afternoons in the shade of the trees by beautiful Skaha beach (mingled with a couple excellent thunder storms, which I always find exhilirating).
And I have started my proofreading and editing business again, as my left-handedness is improving. I should have my ambidextrous skills down pat just about the time I can start using my right arm again 🙂
Followup, July 29:
When I posted a link to the above post on Facebook, my friend, Aggie Stevens, commented: “Great post – makes me want to organize my own ‘gatherings’, currently scattered in numerous notebooks and scraps of paper.” And I responded:
I’m facing the same dilemma, Aggie. Over time, I’ve used notebooks/journals, bits of paper (gathered in file folders or binders or recipe boxes, taped on my wall or bulletin board, even tape recordings, etc.), and of course computer files, which I’ve organized and reorganized over time, but have difficulty finding the ideal “stones” I need because they are, like yours, so scattered! If I was rich, I’d hire someone to sort and organize it all for me (I can dream…) but maybe I’ll just have to devote a few minutes per day in my planner to that chore until I have everything in one place … ideally my laptop (with a couple good backup locations). (And also devote a few minutes per day to transcribe the new stones I’ve gathered and jotted down that day on napkins or whatever…).
The question, then, is what method to use. Up until now, I’ve used the trusty old folders-and-files system, but the problem with that is that any folder or file in question is not dedicated to “stones” so I have other bits and pieces mingled in which are on the same topic/subject, so I’m still faced with digging through to find those potential writing gems. I’m thinking of using Evernote, but am curious about what software others might be using for their “fieldstone gatherings”?