Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Working over the past few days on an article I've been asked to write -- to be submitted to the California Historian for publication in spring ... .

Shouldn't be a problem, right? I'm at the age where I've become living history myself, and -- having outlived all the naysayers in my life there are few left to dispute my claims; an enviable position to be in; or so one would imagine, anyway.

Been trying to recall all those flashing insights that pop into my head when I'm walking a group along the time-line at the truly moving Rosie the Riveter Memorial at Marina Bay Park. It's what we Interpreters do. The relevant facts are right there accessible at the front of the brain, and move out between my lips as if programmed in advance. I'm often surprised and delighted at the kinds of memories that are invoked on those walks through history. I've occasionally been silently pleased at a continuing ability to clearly articulate those times that our generation survived against such great odds. I can still feel the affect of those traumatic years in the process of the telling.

But now it's time to require my fingers to kick in and connect with those memories enough to enable my brain to produce a lengthy piece for publication. That's a horse of a different color; and this ain't Oz!

Why am I able to write so effortlessly when it's a matter of free association -- as with blogging? This is not in the least difficult. I simply imagine the words onto the screen and up they spring as if through some direct line twixt mind and fingertips. This has always been true. My personal files are filled with accounts of events, ceremonies, stories, challenges, written long ago to no one in particular. Long before blogging was the order of the day, keeping a journal of some sort has been an on-going practice. There are fading carbon copies written on onion skin and typed on my faithful and beloved old IBM Selectric with it's back-spacing correction feature and immensely satisfying slapping back of the carriage at the end of each line! It seems only yesterday, and long before my love affair with my MAC.

Was invited this week to attend parts of a 3-day conference celebrating the 40th anniversary of the demonstrations that occurred at San Francisco State University during the Sixties. It was the time characterized by Dr. S.I. Hayakawa pacing like a caged tiger atop one of the buildings along the Quad -- wearing his tassle-topped tam 'o shanter and wielding that infamous bullhorn.

Tonight there is a reception featuring Harry Belafonte and Danny Glover and other dignitaries that will celebrate the winning of the battle to create the first Ethnic Studies Department in the country. What happened at SFSU would usher in a completely new and sustaining edge in the field of education that would be emulated on campuses through the Academy.

When Ray Allen called to tell me about the conference and to extend the invitation to attend, I suddenly recalled that somewhere in my files was a folder containing an eye-witness account of those demonstrations. I was there! I'd written about the experience. Again, I'd recorded history before there was any hint that it would ever be meaningful or worth marking as of any consequence. Prescient? Yes. Always.

Over the past few days I searched and found the folder and spent what seemed endless hours reading through my long-forgotten notes -- the completed series of what I (apparently) hoped might someday be worth publishing. (The fantasies of a young mother plotting escape?)

Back to today: Why -- when writing has been so effortless over a long lifetime -- do I feel so inadequate to the task of doing a formal piece for a journal? And, no, it isn't the first such invitation -- I received an invitation to submit a weekly column for a local newspaper some time ago and couldn't find the will to even answer the request. I simply tucked it away after allowing myself to feel my ego temporarily expand to new levels, and then felt embarrassed over the next months each time I ran into the editor socially who'd extended the offer. Maybe it felt good enough to be asked without having to deliver. After all, my blogging elicits little response from readers so there is little accountability to contend with.

When my paper on Rosie the Riveter World War II/Home Front National Historical Park appears in print sometime in the spring, I will have published. What on earth is so fearful about that?

I truly don't know... .

1 comment:

Anonymous said...


You are already published..., self-published through your blog. I don't know how many others read it, but I know there are some.

In a small way, through your blog writings, you have inspired me to write a few things outside of my comfort zone and, in the future, I'll be writing more.

Some of them were:

I’m not _______, but…

Race Matters!

What does “Gay New York” mean to you?

I, for one, read every one of your blog posts from beginning to end, even though I don't comment.

We voted yesterday and then watched Obama's infomercial and stayed up late to watch Clinton and Obama. I believe we are making wonderful history right now and yet I am so scared that they are somehow going to steal it away from us again.

We have never contributed to a political campaign in our life. We did this year -- 4 times!

Back to your writing:

Betty, from what I have read of your writings in these blog posts, you have much that you can share with others from a perspective and experience that is very unique. I seriously believe that you should be able to do a great job on your paper and would like to be able to read it when it becomes available.

Mike Goad

Dover, Arkansas