My initial plan was to start this day by creating a photo file for this evenings presentation about the history of Route 66 at Chilin on Beale, another chapter in the ongoing Smithsonian Journeys series. There was also a need to draft a few notes for the overview of the upcoming Route 66 International Festival that I will also be sharing during tonight’s event but Mike Wagner resolved the need for that yesterday.
So, this morning I focused on the creation of a photo file for the slide show presentation this evening. This was one of those two birds with one stone sort of thing as I will use this to accompany my presentation at Westerners International in Prescott on the evening of November 7.
Next on the list was several hours of intense writing as the self imposed deadline for the Route 66 Atlas is fast approaching. However, I instead decided that the chaos of the office had to be resolved first.
The schedule of the past two months has resulted in a homestead (especially the office) that appears to be one part disaster scene and two parts hoarders nightmare. This is in spite of my dearest friends valiant effort to stem the tide of clutter that I have been funneling into the house, and an unfinished remodeling project. Needless to say, it isn’t a pretty picture.
The decision was made to turn a blind eye to most of it until the end of November when the book is finished. However, the office/slash media room needed immediate attention as the piles of notes, reference books, photos, notebooks, and printouts for this project, as well as galley proofs, expense files, maps, and baskets of correspondence requiring a response are now impending the steady flow of work.
So, three hours were devoted to finding the desk top and presenting an illusion of organization. Such endeavors are usually reserved for the end of a project as a means of cleaning the slate and preparing for a fresh start.
These endeavors are always rather emotional. First, they are a symbolic sigh of relief. With the office clean I know that another book is finished, with the exception of final edit, evaluation of the galley proof, and writing of captions.
Additionally, the cleansing of the office always unleashes thoughts of the many people who lent assistance to a particular project. When I first experienced such deep emotion during the cleansing of the office, the thought was that such maudlin reflection was directly tied to the simple fact that the publication of a book was the fulfillment of a childhood dream.
Now, as I near completion of book number twelve, it has become rather apparent that I am a sappy sort of fellow. I am truly indebted to those who lend assistance as without people like Mike Ward, Joe Sonderman, or Steve Rider, these books wouldn’t be possible.
I am also quite privileged to be able to refer to those who lend assistance as friends. That is the lead in for the second aspect of the ceremonial cleansing of the office that really tugs at the hear strings.
When I first established an in home office, it was decorated with rows of filled bookcases, a few family photos and mementos, and a couple of photos from our favorite places. Now, it is filled with notes, post cards, and trinkets sent by readers and fans of my work, the most rewarding aspect of being a published author.
Under a window sill cluttered with interesting geologic samples obtained on various desert expeditions, antique bottles turned purple in the desert sun, and a miniature steam engine my pop built from scrap metal, the wall is adorned with post cards from Germany and Holland, colorful thank you cards from the proprietors of the Blue Swallow Motel, and outdated calendars from friends and acquaintances that are to beautiful to toss.
Under the desk top are notes written in German and Dutch, Australian (a form of English) and Chinese, gifts from Fran at the Midpoint Café and Bob Waldmire, and a few other trinkets such as a check from the old trading post in Conway, Texas, and a Route 66 75th anniversary commemorative envelope from Adrian, Texas. Magazine racks on the shelf tops overflow with periodicals containing interviews, or photographic contributions we made, from a wide array of countries.
All of this unleashes a torrent of memories and reflections, and thoughts of the future. So many of these items are from friends such as Bob Waldmire or Dave Gurney that are no longer with us.
With a semblance of order restored to the office, and pretend blinders that prevent me from seeing the lengthy list of projects that will require immediate attention when the book is finished, I am now prepared to write. Today’s focus is documenting Buster Keaton’s movie endeavors in Kingman, chronicling important evolutionary segments of Route 66, and writing about serial killers cruising in the shadows of the double six in the 1950s.
If you get everything organized you'll never be able to find anything. I know of what I speak.