Wednesday, August 02, 2017

Writing of

I am documenting the process of writing a creative non-fiction book called Coat Hangers and Knitting Needles about abortion in the US before Roe v. Wade. Part of the process is to document the progress or non progress along the way. I hope that other writers who live with distractions will be able to identify.

Week of July 24
My birthday. I didn’t want a party. I wanted to visit Abbey Fontevraud, where Eleanor of Aquitaine, Henry II and Richard the Lionhearted are buried or rather their tombs are the central point in abbey. As a history buff whenever I visit the graves of a person I’ve read about or read their works, it is like a personal introduction.

I know their bones were desecrated during the French Revolution, but it is still is an emotional/intellectual exercise of the past coming together with the present. In a way it is not unlike the research I am doing this book.

The hotel is part of the abbey, the former leper hospital. I describe the style as Medieval Modern. The architect was able to make it both ultra modern and keep the Medieval feel with things like shutters, candles and wood.

The drive is almost eight hours as is the later drive from Fontevraud back to our Geneva home. My husband and I seldom lack things to talk about, we play music and I do tend to fall asleep. We joke that if I can’t sleep some night he should take me for a ride in the car like they do with teething babies.

In our silent spells I mull over the next chapter I want to tackle. Over the next couple of weeks, chance to transcribe some of the Norma McCorvey interviews will be slim.

I have copies of many articles and video of interviews on documentaries about and with Sherri Finkbine, the Miss Sherri of the Phoenix, Arizona Romper Room. She took 36 Thalidomide just before it became aware of its connections to malformed infants. Her fight for an abortion resulted in the FBI having to protect her family. A trip to Sweden was the only way she could obtain the abortion.

In between sightseeing and travel, I write the chapter, first in my head and then onto computer. I see a recent story by Karina Bland with an email. I contact her and ask if Sherri is still alive. She is and promises to forward my email to her. By now Sherri must be 82.

Sissy Spacek stared in a movie about the abortion in a movie called A Private Matter. The entire film is on youtube and I listen to it. I know screen writing can manipulate the truth, but almost everything in it matches what Sherri has said in different interviews picked up in print or on documentaries where she is interviewed. Of course, the scenes of cooking breakfast probably aren’t accurate as to what the family ate but that is not important to the story.

What delighted me was that she has written children’s books to help youngsters deal with bullying, gun violence and abuse.

When I unpack in Geneva, I can’t find my blue flowered notebook. Since I started the project whenever I find a name that I want to follow up on, I jot it down. My husband is shocked, because I almost never put anything on paper preferring to keep everything on laptop, saving to my hard drive, my USB key shaped like a pig and Dropbox. To recreate it will be impossible.

I’ve lost at least a week’s work if not more. I hope as I research/write the things I remember other names and incidents will come to me.

Two days later he holds up the notebook. 

We are going away again for a couple of days and more work time lost, but life time gained.

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