mad in pursuit journal


From Task to Obsession

An August Goal: For future bookmaking, learn Adobe InDesign by dumping in and reformating Price-Dunne family history pages.

Expected results: (1) A reference work for my more "poetic" family history as rivers project. (2) A little show-and-tell for our return to St. Louis in September.

Last week at this time I was ready to gouge my eyes out with frustration at Adobe InDesign. I knew what it should be able to do, but couldn't get there from here. All I wanted was for it to behave like a word processor, only prettier. It defied me.

By Monday I had cracked the code.

But then, as I started pouring in the contents from my website, I realized how first-drafty all my entries were: too telegraphic here, too wordy there, typos galore. How am I going to turn this mess into a story?

Memo to self: Genealogy is exciting to the searcher because every little detail fires up her imagination about times past. The searcher can always conjure up the story to herself. But for most people, the searcher's hard-won family tree is just a list of names and dates. Only the already motivated appreciate what a huge service it is. So how did I get motivated? What snagged my attention? Why should anyone else be interested? What does it all mean? A little salesmanship, please. 1862 to 1942 means he was how old when he died? (If I need a calculator to figure this out, everyone else will skip past it and not realize the old boy had a good long life. [The answer is 80.])

The point: now I'm spending every waking minute trying to reorganize my facts and connect the dots. I'm trying to edit it like a story, not a Powerpoint presentation. Doing it in Adobe InDesign actually helps. Does it "look" like a story yet? This is a good thing. Living the artist's life.



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Photo: My grandpa Walter Price, a combat engineer in World War I.