Sunday, February 24, 2013

Of Lemons, Notebooks, and the New York Yankees






It seems I am in a lemon-y mood this evening. Maybe I am sick of winter and in the mood for spring. We have a winter storm watch coming on Tuesday. Spring seems very far away. When I think of spring, I think of lemons.  I am sipping "I Love Lemon" herbal tea and enjoying lemon cookies from Trader Joe's. I even bought a big bag of lemons, just to have on hand in the kitchen. Kitchens seem sunnier and happier when a bowl of lemons is on the counter. My favorite beverage is an Arnold Palmer: iced tea and lemonade. One of the lemons was already cut up and placed in a glass for one of those. About a half hour ago, I chatted online with a seminarian friend in Uganda, and we wound up talking about food.  I told him about my Sicilian heritage. I told him my dream was to someday visit the island and see the gorgeous landscape. I told him my grandfather's people were from Sicily. His earliest memories were of someone putting him on a donkey for a ride as a little boy, and of the beautiful lemon trees nearby. So when I think of Sicily, I think of lemons.

And that has absolutely nothing to do with the next part of today's blog.

How's that for a transition?



Some of you know that I am writing my third book. I cannot believe that I am. I can still picture myself on my back patio in 2008, talking to my friend Anne about Olivia and the Little Way. At the time, the book was only a dream of mine. She encouraged me to finish it.  To tell the truth, I didn't think anyone would read it. I could never have believed it would become as popular as it is. I remember the October day I first held the book in my hands, my labor of love staring back at me. It was the feast of St. Therese, and it was a gift from her to me that I would hold it for the first time on her feast day. It was one of those moments you never forget. I'm a keeper; I keep memories, and I also keep physical things to remind me of those memories.

One of the things I keep are my writing notebooks. I like to look back at my notes for the books I write. I'm big on stars and arrows. And underlining. I underline important things I want to make sure I address in my books. Then I put a big ink box around them. I think all writers should save their notes so that, years later, they can see how the writing process went.  I have to say that I was a bit more organized when I was writing Olivia and the Little Way and Olivia's Gift, the sequel.  Everything was pretty much contained in one or two notebooks.

This new book I'm writing? Well, let's just say that I'm not as organized this time around. Maybe because it's not an Olivia book. I have counted about five separate notebooks for book #3.  One is red-leather bound, with a slot for a pen that is now missing. That one rode around in my purse for awhile, until it got too heavy. So I got another little floral one, which helped me take notes from a priest friend of ours who had some fascinating things to say. That notebook got stuffed into my laptop bag. I couldn't find it, so I started another notebook. This one was a little too big, though, and wasn't as convenient. I just found that one. Then there was the mini spiral notebook that I took notes on during a homily at Mass. I cannot decipher my notes from that day, unfortunately. That's a shame, because it was a good homily.

Then there are the folders. The blue one holds all sorts of information and statistics about the New York Yankees. Also included in that folder are notes I took when discussing the team with my father, who knows anything you'll ever want to know about them and the Yankee Clipper, and then some. In addition to the Yankee folder, I have notes on my laptop computer from other friends and sources.

Writers are always on the lookout for good sources, and if you don't have a notebook, you are out of luck. I've written on napkins in restaurants, even a cardboard box flap. I've had conversations with people and I've had to stop them and say, "Wait! Stop. Say that again. I like that!" When Susan, my Marian Catechist friend, comes to visit, I always have a notebook out on the kitchen table. Everything that comes out of her mouth is note-worthy. I've stopped her mid-sentence to have her repeat something profound. Writers can be rude. I think we're tough to be friends with. She doesn't mind. She's only too happy to repeat herself.

Well, the other day I had had enough. I couldn't take the array of notebooks. There were too many, and they were scattered all over. So I collected them all, including the sticky notes and scratchings on little pieces of paper, and laid them all out on the bed. I took a fresh, new notebook and transferred everything into the new one. I got rid of everything else. All of my notes are now neatly organized, and boy does it feel great. I mean, almost freeing. Now, any new notes go into the one notebook. I've got tabs for each major section in the book.

I hope I can keep this up. I'm on chapter 14, so it must be working.

By the way, Phil Rizzuto's nickname was The Scootah! Number ten, shortstop. I found that in my notes!


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