Archive for September, 2011
She was a warm, straightforward, bright and funny woman with an inspiring life story. I had the pleasure of hearing her speak once when she was in Philadelphia, and was also greatly inspired by her book, Unbowed. You can read the NY Times remembrance here.
First of all, THANK YOU to everyone who has contributed to my IndieGoGo project! I can’t begin to express how much I appreciate the support you’ve conveyed with your donations and comments.
I’m already two-thirds of the way to my goal, and I wanted to take a moment to let you know where things stand with this project. It’s a dizzying combination of both good and not-good news.
The not-good news:
Okay, let me get the pain over with so I can move on.
Just as I launched my IndieGoGo campaign, my computer suffered a fatal hard-drive crash. A literal crash – of the drive head and disk platter, as I have since learned – destroying the drive and making it impossible for the two repair/retrieval companies I’ve tried so far to gain access to my data.
The horrible, and embarrassing, part is that I’ve not been good about backing up. Scratch that…I’ve been bad about backing up. So I have lost a lot of files, including, yes, whole sections of the novel, plus extensive notes for revisions. I’m now waiting for a quote from a data retrieval center that has a sterile room where they can actually pull the platter and try to take individual bits of data off it, although there’s no guarantee of what I might get. The initial estimate? “Shouldn’t be more than $2,000” — an amount that, at that point, happened to coincide exactly with my IndieGoGo total. Not a budgeted expense, to say the least. Plus, now I need a new computer.
But in the meantime, I’ve been pulling out hard copies of past chapters, which I can scan if I need to, and I’ve gone through my office trash and recycling bins for whatever scraps of past notes and edits I can recover. I’ve also gone through a handful of jump drives that I use haphazardly when I’m away on writing residencies. And as a result, I’ve been able to recover some rough version of all my chapters so far, and I can use the hard copies to update older files to get them closer to where they were before I lost them. It will be a lot of extra work, but it could have been a whole lot worse.
The good news:
“It could have been a whole lot worse” – that’s definitely right up there on my good-news list. When all the dust settles and I can get back to writing, I should be reasonably close to where I was before this happened.
I think of the wonderful writer, Pico Iyer, who lost everything he owned when his house burned down, including every scrap of his manuscripts and notes. Everything. In an interview with Iyer that appeared in the excellent online journal, Wild River Review, Iyer said about that loss:
“When I called up my very wise editor in London, after making the appropriate noises of sympathy, he said, ‘You should celebrate. As a writer, this can only be good for you.’ What he was getting at, because he was wise, was that I relied too much on notes and that being freed from them might liberate me towards writing a more thoughtful and deeply sounded kind of prose.”
I am not nearly so wise as Iyer and his editor. Nor do I feel, at least at this moment, anything resembling liberation in the wake of this experience. But I do understand what I think is his point – that attachment is not good for a writer, and that being freed from it is. I imagine, too, that intense feelings of horror, panic, shame, loss, and despair may also be useful for a writer, but I can’t say that I’m exactly glad to have experienced them so overwhelmingly all at once.
More good news
But enough about that. The real, solid good news is that the work continues, and that this project moves forward. I have another sojourn coming up next month at Pendle Hill Quaker Center for three days and nights of solid writing. I have my first doctor’s appointment next month to begin the regimen of shots I’ll need to travel to Africa. I’ve received very warm and helpful guidance from people at the American Friends Service Committee here in Philadelphia, the Friends United Meeting office in Kisumu, and at the Friends Mission and Theological College in Kaimosi.
And definitely on my good-news list is the extraordinary response so far to my IndieGoGo campaign. I’m misting up with gratitude right now just thinking about it.
So please, keep spreading the word, and keep checking in for updates! Love and thanks to all,
My IndieGoGo campaign, “Busara Road: An African novel and Quaker homecoming,” has launched!
Click HERE to check it out.
I’m turning to IndieGoGo to help me get to Kenya in December for an international writing seminar and a return to the Quaker mission where I lived as a kid. On my IndieGoGo site you’ll find a video and lots of info about the project, and a bunch of perks you can get if you contribute! You can also leave me encouraging comments in the “Comments” section. Take a look, and let as many people know about it as you can.
Here’s the YouTube version of the video:
As someone who is such a late adopter that I’ve yet to own a cellphone, I’m humbled by a recent NYT piece about the use of cellphones in Kenya to improve healthcare. Not only is cellphone use widespread throughout Kenya as a way to bypass the cost and complications of land lines, another great advantage is the use of text messaging to assist healthcare delivery. Check out the article here.