Saturday, March 18, 2017

Typing up the past

Photo courtesy of Pixabay
Back in 1989 I began to keep a journal on my computer. It wasn't the first journal or diary I'd kept, by any means - another (handwritten) one was produced alongside it most days, but that was more focused on my spiritual life, and how it was going.

But this 1989 journal was different in the sense that not only was it being written on the computer, I was printing it out as I went. Which was just as well, as the computer I was using, an Amiga 500, didn't keep much information itself; you had to back-up everything onto disks. A tedious process, but essential; a story I wrote, and thought had potential, got lost when it wasn't backed-up. (In every other respect, the Amiga was great.)

The back-up disks survived long after the Amiga had been sold on when we got a new computer, but of course they were no good without the Amiga system. Fortunately, as I said, I'd printed the journal out, regularly, and by the time it came to an end (I went onto a different system on a computer that backed up stuff of its own accord) there were seven volumes of it, the first alone amounting to 120 pages printed out on an old dot-matrix printer, with about 700 words per page.

Feeling some concern at only having one printed copy of the journal, I spent some of my hard-earned cash one day and got the whole thing copied by a local printer I knew through my work. Now I had two copies, but what to do with the second one? Where to store it for safety? I considered a safebox of some sort, but didn't have the finances at that point to keep on paying for the storage. I asked our friendly family lawyer, but that didn't work out either; it wasn't the sort of thing they did. (At least not without payment.) In the end I gave the second copy to my son, so that at least both copies weren't in the same house.

Now, having recently finished the book I've been writing over the last couple of years - The Disenchanted Wizard - I decided it was time to do something I've been intending to do for some time: type up the printed copy of the journal onto my current computer, where it'll automatically be backed-up onto the Cloud. And that's what I've been doing for the last two or three weeks: I'm currently up to page 70 of the first volume, making pretty good progress, and discovering all sorts of stories and events within the family that I'd forgotten about.

There's a lot about writing in there, too. In 1988 I began a writing course by correspondence, and when the journal opened I was coming towards the end of the course and making some progress with the writing: getting articles published, a short story read on the radio, and another short story for kids printed by the School Journal. 

I had a thought a couple of nights ago that I could use the writing sections of the journal in another book, and started some preparatory work towards that. Time will tell whether that eventuates. After all, who needs another book on writing?
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