I started thinking about writing a book several years ago. I was sharing my thoughts about writing with my neighbor and author, the late Ludlow Porch. Ludlow was a humorous writer who authored many books. Ludlow asked me what the book was about. I told him that I didn't know… I just wanted to write a book. He said, "Jimmy, you have to have a subject to write a book." I sheepishly agreed.
It took a while but I finally decided to write an autobiography. I wanted to share my history having crossed into my eighth decade with my family and friends. That length of time to live, study, work, and reflect provided me with lots of material from which to write.
My first question to myself was… how do you write a book. I assumed that I would just sit down at my computer and start typing. Boy, was I in for a surprise! It became obvious that I had a lot of learning to do. I started reading autobiographies written by various authors. As I continued to read and study the work of others, I knew that I had a lot of research to do.
The first thing that I thought about was using my personal and work calendars for information that might help me write the book. I knew that I had saved some of them over the years. I didn't make a deliberate effort to save them but just kept them in no particular place. After searching, I found 44 years of consecutive calendars starting with 1974. I could not believe that I had kept those calendars. They were valuable in allowing me to pin down dates, times, and events.
My parents both passed away many years ago. As I researched for the book, I had 10,000 questions that I wished I had asked before they passed. Fortunately, I brought home files, boxes, and other historical data that they had kept. That was invaluable in providing information for the book. In particular, my mother wrote a history of her early life as a child. She wrote it in pencil and time had faded the words. I was able to darken the pages and recover the words. My mother had an excellent handwriting style.
My siblings, cousins, and friends were very valuable in helping me pull together some family history. One of my cousins answered a question about why my dad sold our home in the late 1950s. I was young and never questioned it at the time.
I spent nearly two years researching, attending a writing seminar, talking to other writers, and generally becoming a student of writing an autobiography. The journey was arduous, fun, exciting, time-consuming, and worth every minute that I spent. Years earlier, I studied a concept called "delay of gratification." I thought that I understood that concept, however, writing and self-publishing this book taught me what it really means.
I hope you enjoy reading about my history and those who inspired me. Please let me know your thoughts about the book.
Until next time, Jimmy
The journey was long but very rewarding. I discovered many things about my dad and mom that I did not know. My mom never talked about her early years but recorded them in her writings, which I found after her death. I have written an entire section about her early life in the book. She shared a horrible experience that she suffered as a child and I was not aware of until she shared it following my dad’s death.
My dad worked for a large company building ships during World War II. He never talked about that experience. The only way that I discovered it was a well-worn company ID card that I found in his files following his death. Why didn’t he share that with us kids? I will never know. I did discover that the library in Brunswick, Georgia received some of the files from the ship building company when it closed years ago. I spoke to the curator of the information and learned quite a bit about the company and the ships that they built. I am not sure what my dad did or how long he worked there.
My research on the ship building company led me to three sisters from my home county who worked as welders at the shipyard. One of those sisters was a teacher of mine in junior high school. She never talked about her welding experiences. She passed a few years ago but I did talk with her two sisters briefly during my research. They both were in their mid to late 90s. What an awesome experience to visit with them by phone.
I was able to re-create some of my parent’s early life through family, friends and the internet. Sometimes it was bits of information, dates or events that led me to search and discover new information.
What a joy it was to go back in time and remember growing up in the small community of Gardi, Georgia. As I wrote about my experiences of growing up there, my memory was jogged into pleasant remembrances of my carefree youth. I remember people who meant so much to my family and greatly impacted our lives. I know you can’t go back in time but if I could, I would go back to the Gardi of the 1950s and 60s for a visit.
Until next time, Jimmy