Getting to grips with the content

After taking a look at the first dozen or so items in my two scribble folders I realised this is not going to be like sorting out a load of old mementos which bring back some interesting memories. With the exception of the doodles, most of it is very personal stuff reflecting deep-felt, often troubled, emotions. Furthermore most of it is some 40 years old and I have no memory of some of the contents. It will certainly make me reflect.

However, regardless of the contents there was still an initial Order from Chaos job to be done to get this pile of paper in order. I did an initial sort into rough piles, and then a more detailed  sort based on a quick read-through of each item. This was a bit of an eye-opener. It was quite hard to read some of the stuff without squirming or feeling embarrassed about some of the things I had written or had done. However, this is the nature of looking back across our lives since there can be few of us who have not said or done things they perhaps wish they had done differently. Having that material written down gives it even greater impact.

One thing this initial read-through made me realise is that in at least two instances my memory of 40 year old events was either completely wrong or missing large chunks of significant elements. I suspect this is not uncommon and is a possibility that is always worth bearing in mind when being told stories of long past events by other people.

Having completed the read-through and let the contents settle in my mind for 24 hours or so has made me feel more comfortable with the material; and having all the items sorted and categorised has enabled me to have a clear view of what needs to be done. The 14 categories that emerged into which the 277 items were placed are:

  • Doodles (161)
  • Design of a questionnaire about religion, sex, attitudes towards people and education done in my teens at school (1)
  • Items written by other people including poems, cards and notes (6)
  • Material for cards I made – one rough outline for a card; and two with a poem by George Macdonald I had written out in italic writing (3)
  • Comments from other people – one on a survey I did at school and the other with humorous remarks on questions I passed round party attendees probably at University (2)
  • Story writing – story outline and some pages of text based around the Shroud of Turin; story outline and full text on having German Measles at university; short two pages about a ship being torpedoed; the essay I submitted for the school prize essay in 1964; the first 25 pages of a thriller I started writing at school; and a short story about an alley cat (6)
  • Exercise books containing English essays I did at school in 1962-3, 1963-4 and 1966 (3)
  • Description of a dream I had in 1979 (1)
  • Sketch of a design for a house (1)
  • Activity Diary for about 1 month probably from my first term at university (1)
  • Letters I wrote to various individuals but never sent (8)
  • Poems I wrote (41)
  • Reflective writings I produced (42)
  • Short note I made in 1965 on religion-related behaviour I aspired to (1)

I’ve created a working document in which I’ve noted various ideas of what to do with each item, and this has made me realise that some of the material can simply be added to existing hardcopy and/or digital items in my mementos collection; and the remaining items will be new additions to the collection. Having an existing mementos collection with an established Index and approach to hardcopy and digital filing will certainly make the whole exercise much easier and quicker. So now I’ll start to work through the items in each category and deal with them accordingly.

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