My dad was a writer, family historian, and local historian. His notes, various drafts, research, etc. were stacked up on tables and the floor in his office or filed haphazardly in the mostly empty file cabinets my mom bought for him.
After he died in 2006, I’d try to organize and file whenever I came home for my annual visit, and I quickly filled up one four-drawer file cabinet. I put the rest of his papers in cardboard boxes, and there they sat until recently.
We need to use the bedroom that served as his office, so I packed up his papers and moved them to another room. They’ll have to wait to be dealt with some other time.
While I was packing up his notebooks, I flipped through them to decide which ones should be kept. One of his notebooks has a few pages of a diary he wrote in the late 1960s when he was in his early 40s.
Dad was taking a correspondence course in fiction writing at the time and had been advised to keep a journal. In one entry, he wrote about his struggle to write, and he wonders if he is any good at it at all. It’s the same struggle I’m going through now.
The advice given then is the same advice given today to writers:
“…read, read, read — keep a notebook — write, write, write.”