May 5, 2017

Creating a Book from Social Media

Floods in our parent's basement was a regular and messy occurrence during heavy storms. The water would easily reach calf level always resulting in damage. The family cedar chest held pictures and videos which we frantically laid around the house to dry and perhaps to save. A hard back book was found in the midst of the cedar chest treasures after my father's death in 1980 ... it was a previously unknown diary written by my maternal grandmother in 1938 during a period of her life when she lived with four of her children and husband in the woods in a cabin in Marquette, Michigan. This was a winter to be remembered with the heavy snow and rain around the country throughout the year. New England was hit by a category 3 hurricane, one of the worst since 1869, on September 21, 1938, destroying the home of Katharine Hepburn. Edna Olsen wrote about her experience with the winter blizzard of 1938 - equally hard and violent - in this book.  

I played with the idea of creating something lasting out of this diary: a children's book; printing out pages from the diary and sending to family; allowing it to rest and be forgotten. I kept these ideas in my heart and thoughts for many years, never forgetting.  

In 2016, I was in a class led by a life coach ... my "take" from this was a decision to have focused goals for the next year - ones that would take my full attention until completion. I played with an idea of putting Edna's diary on Facebook, page by page, date corresponding to the date in the book, and to post to all my Facebook family, including "friends". My biggest concern was: would my "friends" enjoy seeing these personal posts from an era so long removed from our memories? I thought - yes, maybe.  

My steps in preparation for this endeavor began at the end of 2016, and included:
  • Typing Edna's written words, verbatim and including her punctuation, in a Word document.
  • Deciding to put on social media's Facebook - believing this was one of the best ways to reach people, family and friends.
  • Receiving permission to "post" diary from Edna's daughter.
  • Searching my photo library for pictures to use to compliment the writing of the day.
  • Editing these pictures for clarity and presentation.
  • Inserting selected pictures into the diary entry.
  • Posted author’s poem the eve of New Year’s in preparation for the diary.
  • Began Facebook with a short synopsis on the first of January, 2017 as written in the diary.
  • Daily posts coinciding with day of month author wrote in diary. 
  • Allowed for all to see these posts. 
  • At the end of each of Edna's entry, wrote a little explanation, idea, or posed a question.
  • As time progressed, I collected comments and drew more by asking for memories.
  • Continued daily posts making sure they were written in the morning for continuity of those who followed and posted.
  • Near the conclusion of the diary began cutting and pasting posts, including friend and family comments, and inserted that day’s photo into a Word document. 
  • Made decision to center all pictures in document to give it an aesthetic appearance. 
  • Edited comments for redundancy, deleting a few, tightening up the person’s punctuation for readability trying to preserve the essence of who this Facebook person is.
Continued editing and sharpening project.The idea of creating a book out of this Facebook document occurred to me around this time. Previously, I was considering sending family the link to the Word document - but a book would give friends and family a hands-on experience and memory of Edna Olsen's diary and posts from many people. My next steps when this decision was set in
stone were:
  • Contacted the Michigan State University library for information on self publishing: formatting, size, font, cover art.
  • Saved full document on 3 sites (computer, thumb drive, passport). 
  • Met with MSU Espresso Book Machine Coordinator to share intent and set up appointment with cover designer. 
  • Brought thumb drive to appointment. 
  • Worked on-site with coordinator to format for 6 x 9 book, spacing, setting up font, paragraph breaks, picture sizes and pagination. 
  • With the coordinator's expertise designed and prepared a cover for book – front, binder, back; selected pictures to include on cover and wrote a synopsis of book. 
  • Included my logo "Barefoot Norwegian Publishing" on back cover. 
  • Selected the number of books to start with by estimating those who I thought would be interested in receiving a copy. 
  • Signed copyright page for 100 copies. 
  • Coordinator created one copy of the book for me to review, edit and/or change. 
  • Took this prototype home and scoured for any errors and submitted to coordinator. 
  • Received corrected book and cover documents from coordinator via email. 
  • Reviewed and approved. 
  • Printing of books begun and completed.
  • To make mailing less expensive purchased book mailing envelopes and invoice book from an office store rather than the Post Office.
  • Took envelope with book to Post Office for mailing amount.
  • Contacted family for interest in receiving book, wrote out invoice, included within pages of book to receive book rate
  • As orders came in, each book was mailed. 
Diary of a Cabin Dweller

May 1, 2017

A Melancholy Mood

A fog was hanging in the air today which encouraged me to walk to town in order to organize my thoughts - almost tripping on the thick murky ground. One thing about wandering in a literal fog is the quiet, which made me feel as if I was in my own little private bubble. I entered the local coffee shop where Christmas music was being piped in, which felt, surprisingly, lonely.
Exchange daughter, Mei Moriguchi &
daughter, Addie Geissel

Today is the anniversary of when Japan bombed Pearl Harbor and I am feeling melancholy thinking about World War II and all the physical and emotional lives lost. Generations passing has allowed healing, thankfully. The Japanese people I have come to know and have sponsored for study abroad are respectful, gentle, and gracious. All the current tension between nations and peoples breaks hearts and families apart, and am wondering how to make a difference. 

I'm not a bra-burning crusader, feel insecure in joining protest marches - but do thank people who do. My predilection is to be kind to one person at a time, showing respect, even to dirty and smelly people. This fills my soul ... beyond words.

My family and I traveled to shop at a Detroit area mall. The media constantly roars on about being prepared for an attack, to keep a watchful eye, to be a little paranoid and distrustful of those from other countries. We refuse to look at others as potential threats and were surrounded by a plethora of individuals and families from all parts of the world dressed in brilliant colors, stunning religious garb, speaking beautiful languages we could only guess at, and yet, we felt comfortable and safe. 

A large Muslim family was standing at the mall rail on the second floor with one of their daughters taking the family picture with a beautiful Christmas tree in the background. I quickly extricated myself from the escalator and approaching the family, asked if they would like their picture taken.* They smiled and appeared happy with my offer, freely handing me their cell phone - obviously without fear I would steal it - they posed and I snapped away. The family was beaming and thanked me profusely for taking their picture and wished us a "happy Thanksgiving and many many blessings".  It felt right and good. My youngest daughter was not embarrassed over this spontaneous move on my part. Isn't life suppose to include making the path more pleasant for our neighbors? 

*My husband and children have witnessed me, on many occasions, stopping our car to hand someone a cup of coffee, cookie, or a few dollars. In particular, to watch for opportunities to take people's pictures. This time around it felt absolutely the right thing to do. I only hope my children have learned to do the same.

The Hardwood Walking Stick

All through my 30s onward, I’ve walked woods from the Appalachian and Smoky Mountains, along with the mountains, hills and valleys of Michig...